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Buyer Beware: Doing Your Homework When Buying a Car - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

UPDATE: Buyer Beware: Doing Your Homework When Buying a Car

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UPDATED 12/11 6:15 p.m.

Buying a car can be an exciting time in your life, but beware...you need to make sure you are taking the right steps by doing your research on the vehicle and who you are buying it from.

We talked with one couple that ended up on the wrong end of a car deal, and they share the lessons they learned.

Echo Mila and her boyfriend needed a vehicle. They were looking for one that would keep Mila's five children safe and one that was reliable.

Mila pulled up Craigslist and found a 1997 Grand Caravan with 214,000 miles on it. Without doing more research into the vehicle or where she was buying it from, she drove two and a half hours from New Rockford, ND to Fargo.

She says, "I felt kinda good about the guy. I read his ads, and talked to him on the phone." The seller and his ad also said that the car was in great condition.

After Mila's boyfriend test drove the van, the two purchased it. A few hours later the real problems started. "On the way back, just started shaking real bad," says Mila.

The van had bad tie rods, alignment and spark plugs, which was a quick $250 fix. But after taking it to another automotive center, that quick fix turned into $500 because the drive shaft was also bad.

So we tried talking to the man who sold Mila and her boyfriend the van.

When we first pulled up to his building there were a couple people standing in the window watching us as we got out of our vehicle. We then tried to open up the door, but it was locked. So our next step was to call a number on the sign that they conveniently fixed when they walked away.

A short while later the man called looking to talk to us. We asked him about the van and the "excellent condition" it was in. He said, "I didn't know there were those issues."

The seller said he had a mechanic look at the van, and if one of them dropped the ball that can and does happen.

All this aside, Mila knows her and her boyfriend should have done their homework. They could have done a Carfax check. They also say they were too trusting.

Both hope their run-in can teach all potential buyers to be careful, do their research and to not get too excited about a vehicle right away.

We also looked into the Lemon Laws or the laws for a car that frequently breaks down and cannot easily be repaired. In both North Dakota and Minnesota, those laws only cover new cars not used ones. 

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We are working on a story where a woman had found a car she wanted to buy on Craigslist.

Without doing too much research, she purchased a 1997 Grand Caravan with 215,000 miles on it. The dealer told her the only problem with the vehicle was that the rear air did not work.

As soon as the woman got the van on the highway, at about 65 miles per hour the van started to shake.

It was at that point she brought it back to the dealer and found out her tie rods were shot and she needed new spark plugs and a new drive shaft.

The dealer wanted more money to fix the van, but she took it elsewhere.

We asked the woman why she would purchase the vehicle, especially when it had 215,000 miles on it. She said she badly needed a vehicle for her and her five kids.

We will be talking to her more about doing better research before purchasing a car. We will also try to talk to the dealer and find out why he would sell her a van like this.

A final thing we will be looking into are the Lemon Laws in North Dakota.

Stay tuned to this website and Valley News Live tonight for much more.

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