Buying a Used Vehicle 

Buying a used vehicle comes with a few steps you should follow to make sure you get the best deal and a reliable vehicle. Here are the steps you should take:

  • Step One: Research online 
  • Looking online helps find and narrow down used cars in the area. It can help you find exactly what you want and what you can afford.
  • Step Two: Check the buyer’s guide  
  • Dealers are required to have a buyer’s guide along with the vehicle. This guide lets you know if the vehicle has warranty (which is a written guarantee to the purchaser of the vehicle by its manufacturer that promises to repair or replace it if necessary) or not.
  • Step Three: Talk to the dealer 
  • Ask the dealer if you can see the vehicle’s history report. This lets you know who had the vehicle before you and if there are any concerns you should know about.
  • Step Four: Get your paperwork 
  • Find out from your state’s motor vehicle department what paperwork you will need to register a vehicle. You can follow this link:
  • Step Five: Double-Check EVERYTHING
  • Have the car inspected by your mechanic. The mechanic should check the vehicle’s frame, tires, air bags, and undercarriage, as well as the engine.
  • Examine dealer documents carefully. Make sure you are buying—not leasing—the vehicle. Leases use terms such as “balloon payment” and “base mileage” disclosures.

Below are some links with tips for what to look for when purchasing a used vehicle for the first time!

Can I be denied the vehicle if I have a juvenile record?

  • Car dealerships, like landlords and employers, can see your unsealed juvenile record if they run a background check.  It may be a factor in deciding not to approve you.  If you have an unsealed juvenile record and know they are running a background check, give the dealership a brief explanation. Don’t blame others—just talk about how you think you have changed and made better choices since then. You could even get a letter of recommendation from a mentor, family member, employer, etc. To avoid the possible conflict altogether, it is a good idea to make sure your record is sealed. See the flyer below to learn more about sealing your juvenile record!

Juvenile Reentry Flyer

This project was supported by Grant No. 2017-CZ-BX-0021 awarded by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice.  Points of view or opinions in this document are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice. 

Legal Aid of Nebraska

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