Consumer Tips for Purchasing a New Vehicle

  • Before you visit a dealership, research the prices and features that are available for the vehicle you are interested in purchasing.
  • Consider getting a car loan from your bank or credit union before you visit the car dealer.
  • Have your research and prices with you when you visit a dealership to help you negotiate the price and the features you want.
  • If  you have a trade-in vehicle, check its value with the NADA (National Automobile Dealers Association) Guide, available on the web at ​before visiting a dealership.
  • If you are trading-in a vehicle, bring your Maryland Certificate of Title and lien release (if applicable).
  • If your Maryland Certificate of Title is lost, ask the dealer to apply for a duplicate title on your behalf.
  • Bring your insurance information and registration plates if you wish to transfer them to the new vehicle.
  • Read every document that you sign. If you do not understand something, ask questions until you do.
  • Do not sign ​any blank papers.
  • When purchasing a used vehicle, request to see the prior title. The dealer should have the title in his possession before selling the vehicle.
  • There is no 3 day return policy unless the dealer puts it in writing.
  • Verbal agreements are difficult to prove, all agreements should be in writing.
  • Ask for the history of the vehicle. The dealer may provide a Carfax or Autocheck report or you may want to get one yourself.
  • A used vehicle sold by a dealer must be inspected. Ask to see the inspection certificate.
  • Remember that the inspection is only for safety and is no guarantee of the vehicle's mechanical soundness.  Always test-drive the vehicle. If possible, have your own mechanic look at the vehicle.
  • If you trade a vehicle and the dealer is to pay off an existing loan, follow up with your lending institution to make sure they do.

New consumer protections on financing motor vehicles became effective on October 1, 2015:

  • Consumers have always had the right to arrange for the financing for a motor vehicle.  In fact, consumer groups recommend that you check with your credit union or bank to see what you would qualify for in credit and at what interest rate.  Dealers may be able to get you better terms than you can find on your own.
  • However, a new law now provides protections to both consumers and dealers when a dealer seeks to arrange the financing for a motor vehicle.  A motor vehicle dealer who sells or leases a vehicle before the dealer-arranged financing is approved must provide the purchaser with notice of the rights and duties of both the dealer and the purchaser.
  • The notice must be signed by the purchaser and the dealer. A copy of the notice must be provided to the purchaser before they take delivery of the vehicle.
  • Within four days of the vehicle’s delivery, the dealer is required to provide a written notification to the purchaser if the dealer-arranged financing has not been approved.  This notification may be done by email if both the dealer and purchaser agree to that form of communication.
  • If the financing is not approved, you must return the vehicle within two days of receiving the written notification from the dealer.   The vehicle may be repossessed if it is not returned.
  • After you return the vehicle, you and the dealer may renegotiate the financing or leasing terms.  However, you have the right to cancel the deal.  The dealer cannot force or require you to accept a loan on terms that are not as attractive as the original deal.
  • If you do not renegotiate the financing or leasing terms and the deal is canceled, the dealer must return to you any vehicle that you traded in the deal.  The traded-in vehicle must be in the same condition as it was when it was received by the dealer.
  • The dealer must also return your down payment and all applicable fees that you paid.
  • The dealer is prohibited from charging any mileage costs or other fees for the use of the vehicle for which financing was not approved.
  • A buyer may not waive these rights.

The best protection is to be an educated consumer. Do your homework; know what you want and how much you can afford before you begin.​