BBB Advises Consumers to Drive Slowly when Hunting for a Used Car

February 10, 2014

Better Business Bureau serving Greater Maryland advises consumers to do their research before purchasing a used vehicle.


BBB has received over 300 inquiries and 12 complaints against Reality Auto Sales Inc. in Baltimore within the last 12 months. Complaints range from vehicles experiencing mechanical issues shortly after the sale to customers paying a deposit and never hearing from the company again. Filed complaints also reveal that the used car dealership failed to uphold promises such as issuing a refund and showing up for scheduled repairs.


"There is no buyer's remorse or cooling-off period," said Angie Barnett, president/CEO, BBB | Greater Maryland. "Once you drive a car off the lot, it's yours. So research the dealership and vehicle history before signing on the dotted line."


Currently, Reality Auto Sales, Inc. maintains an "F" rating with BBB. Two complaints on file remain unresolved, while four complaints have not received a response from the business.


One complainant alleges that the car started to shake when accelerating pass 30 mph. After taking it to a repair shop, she learned that the sub frame was cracked and had a loose bolt. Another complainant alleges "my car just stopped in traffic, engine was still running, I push the gas pedal, but nothing." A Maryland State Police investigation revealed that Reality Auto Sales, Inc. used a fraudulent inspection station to pass its vehicles.


To ensure your next car purchase goes smoothly, BBB and the Maryland Attorney General's Office offer the following tips for buying a used car: 


Do your Homework.  Research the dealership on View the dealer's BBB Business Review to see its accreditation status, the length of time the auto dealer has been in business, its complaint resolution efforts and any past advertising concerns BBB may have found. Look online at websites such as to check the average retail prices of various makes and models of used cars depending on the year and how many miles are on the car.


Take the car for a test drive. Spend at least 20 minutes driving over hills, on the highway and around turns. Try every button and switch.


Examine the title. In a private party sale, the name of the title should be the same as the seller's. Make sure all numbers on the title are easy to read. See if there are any alterations. Be suspicious of out-of-state or P.O. box addresses. When buying from a dealer, confirm the mileage reading on the car is close to what the original owner identified.


Read the entire contract. When signing the contract, make sure you read everything regardless of what the salesperson says. Initial and date all changes, and cross out all blank spaces so nothing can be added after you sign. Include all oral promises. When the deal is done, don't leave without a copy of the signed contract. Be certain the seller completes and signs the disclosure statement, which is found on the back of the Maryland certificate of title.


Understand warranties and service contracts. Find out where the car will be covered by a written warranty from either the dealer or manufacturer. Look for the "Buyer's Guide" sticker on the car required by federal law. It will state whether the car is offered "as is" or with a warranty. A used car dealer in Maryland may only sell a car "as is" if it's more than six years old and has more than 60,000 miles. All other used cars sold by the dealer come with an implied warranty.


Ask about service contracts. Find out whether it would duplicate any warranty already given, what is covered, if a deductible is required and if a reputable company backs the contract.