The Top Tips You Need for Buying “As Is” Used Cars

The Top Tips You Need for Buying “As Is” Used Cars
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Written by Jen Miller

A customer buys a pre-owned car in New Jersey “As Is,” and drives off the lot happy as a clam that she got a nice car for a great deal. Two weeks later…

Knock Knock …
A customer buys a pre-owned car in New Jersey “As Is,” and drives off the lot happy as a clam that she got a nice car for a great deal. Two weeks later, the “tire pressure” light comes on and the customer finds out she needs a new tire, caused by the dreaded “tire rot.” The customer returns to the dealership and cries foul, demanding that the dealership fix the car — at no cost — OR ELSE! Who is obligated to pay for the new tire?

Who’s There … ?
NOT the dealership … Really!

Can’t We All Get Along …?
Car dealerships want to ensure that customers are happy and safe when they buy a car. Anything less than a happy customer could cost the dealership (and/or sales person) its most valuable commodity of all — a dealer’s (or salesperson’s) reputation. That said, assuming that all of the paper work is completed correctly, when a New Jersey dealership sells a car “As Is” the dealer is under absolutely no obligation to make repairs of any kind.

“As Is” Is in the Eyes of the Beholder’s Pocketbook …
The beauty of an “As Is” car is that it may fit the budget of the person who simply needs transportation to-and-from school or work, or local driving that won’t pile miles onto the car causing excessive wear and tear. Many, many, many people buy affordable cars every day, knowing perfectly well that the vehicle may have visible blemishes or the underbelly of the beast may have flaws. “As Is” cars, after all, tend to have a “mature” nature (as in, they’re OLDER); have danced too many steps with the speedometer (in other words, they have EXCESS MILES), and often sport an orange-y patina on its under belly (also known as RUST). Not to be misconstrued as being bad, an “As Is” car simply Is What it Is … Legally!

What You Need to Know About “As Is” Cars in NJ …

In the NJ car biz, the term “As Is” was made up by attorneys. It means that the lawyerly suits sat down and created (and passed) a bunch of laws that require dealers and manufacturers to disclose that the car has no warranty, and everyone’s on board with that.

“As Is” has guidelines, as in certain qualifications that make it an “As Is” vehicle. Remember, lawyers made “As Is” what it is. The term does NOT come from a shady salesperson trying to take advantage of anyone, and the sales person cannot change the rules. The guidelines are written to inform and educate all parties.

– Dealers may sell a vehicle “As Is” if it meets the following qualifications:
– The vehicle is seven (7) model years or older.
– The vehicle has more than 100,000 miles.
– When a vehicle meets these requirements and is being sold “As Is,” it means:
– Vehicles do NOT come with a warranty, expressed or implied; unless agreed upon between the dealership and customer … in writing.

Dealerships are NOT required or obligated to fix a thing if the vehicle meets the requirements for “As Is” status. In NJ, that means the vehicle doesn’t even have to pass inspection.

Dealerships want customers to be happy and safe. Dealerships can also get into a ton of trouble with the feds if they don’t make it really, really clear that “As Is” really, really means “As Is.” So, it’s really, really not in the best interest of the dealership to pull the wool over the customer’s eyes … Really!

What to do if You Buy a Pre-Owned Vehicle “As Is”…
Test Drive the Car BEFORE You Drive the Car Off the Lot — Believe it or not, some people will assume that an “As Is” car is in perfect shape and won’t take the time to test drive the car. Remember, it’s NOT new. By NJ law, it MUST be older than seven model years. It’s up to the customer, therefore, to determine whether the shocks are up to snuff to absorb the unforgiving consequences of NJ roads — think potholes — or any other rattle or shake that may drive them crazy.

Ask for an Independent Mechanic to Review the Car — Yes, it’s ok to ask for a second opinion. It won’t hurt the feelings of the salesperson.

Get the Facts … a CarFax — That’s the vehicle history report given by the folks in fox costumes. It also provides the 411 on any known and/or outstanding manufacturer’s recalls. Dealers and sales consultants will usually offer to run this report. They’re not trying to hide anything.

What NOT to do When Buying a Used Vehicle “As Is” …

Start YELPing or using Social Media to claim injustice if you find that the car isn’t what you had expected. Some people might call that “Buyer’s Remorse.” If you’ve signed the “As Is” papers, you have indicated that you are aware of the car’s condition and released the dealership of its legal obligation to fix anything — at the dealership’s cost — after driving it off the lot. Remember, social media works two ways, and businesses are showing more backbone against whiney customers who threaten to post bad reviews in order to squeeze something more out of the biz. Take the restaurant customer who complained on-line about eating the saltiest fish EV-ER. The restaurant owner shot back a picture of the menu description of the customer’s selection — a house specialty that featured a “BRINED Fish.” Kinda made the customer look stupid.

Bennies of Buying “As Is” from a dealership …

Because they’re required by the feds to stick to the letter of the law, most, good dealerships (and there are so many) will have the proper documentation of the prior owners, and will try to do their very best to make sure the customer is happy.

If you ask nicely and politely, a dealership may be inclined to work with you to fix minor issues that are annoying to you, as part of the negotiation process.

Identity Magazine is all about empowering women to get all A’s in the game of life — Accept. Appreciate. Achieve.TM Every contributor and expert answer the Identity 5 questions in keeping with our theme. Their answers can be random and in the moment or they can be aligned with the above article. As a team, we hope to inspire and motivate ourselves and inspire you to get all A’s.

1. What have you accepted within your life, physically and/or mentally? What are you still working on accepting?

  • Without any warning, one summer Sunday night I had a heart attack. Unlike most women, I experienced every male symptom: left arm pain, the sweats and chest pain. I blew off every one of them, making an excuse for each problem: I had had a pinched nerve in my left arm a few months before; it was a hot, June night and we never turn up our AC; I had indigestion. I couldn’t sleep and twelve hours later I went to the local Medi-Merge, where, upon hearing my symptoms, the staff threw me on to the exam table. An hour later, I was rushed to the hospital. Clearly, it was an unusual event for a non-smoking, healthy woman in her forties with no medical history of heart disease and low blood pressure. The day I had my heart attack, I worked out and during the week, I had coached a girls soccer team. In short, there was no reason for me to have a heart attack; but, I did. The docs found a small blood clot and I was stented. Two weeks later, I was back in the hospital after suffering a Pulmonary Embolism, caused by a blood clot.  


  • Five years later,  I accept that my EKGs come with a “New Normal.” I accept that for the rest of my life I will be advised to take a Statin, even though I have low cholesterol. I accept that when I don’t feel well that I need to pay attention to my symptoms. I DON’T accept any mental limitations on my life as a result of the heart attack.  

2. What have you learn to appreciate about yourself and/or within your life, physically and mentally? What are you still working on to appreciate?

I appreciate every day that I can and will get up almost every morning, without prompting or trepidation, to work out. I am disciplined to work-out on my own and push my limits as far as i can take it that day. And some days I can go further and faster than other days, and I’ve learned to appreciate and accept that. I don’t work out for anyone else but myself. I love the feeling I get when I challenge my body through another work-out, whether it’s yoga, cardio, strength or something I’ve made up on my own. As a result of my daily work outs, I appreciate that I have more energy than most people my age (and even younger). I recently hosted some friends down the Shore but had to work while they hung out on the beach. I woke up early and went for a 4-mile run, drove 3 1/2 hours round trip and worked all day and after dinner, all my friends were ready to fall asleep while I was still raring to go. I have fun and I am not competitive with anyone but myself when I work out (I save competition for other places, and I’m not shy about that), and I am pretty damn competitive with my inner self. The best news is that I always win.

3. What is one of your most rewarding achievements in life? What makes YOU most proud? What goals and dreams do you still have?

  • Several years ago, as a Brand Marketing Consultant for Nike, I recognized that the project for which I was hired had potential to reach more participants in a more relevant way. I recognized a missed business opportunity and convinced the sports marketing director to look at the program differently. Soon, I reinvented a one-off sports clinic for girls in two cities, built it to scale and turned it into a national 17-market program aligned with the WNBA. I am incredibly proud of the fact that not only do I have a knack for recognizing missed business opportunities but I have the vision (and courage) to change and evolve.  


  • I am quite proud of the fact that people have described me as a good listener and as someone who is open to change, evolution and new ideas. I look at possibilities and opportunities before I look for a reason not to do something new.  


  • It’s easy to say that my kids are my greatest achievement; but, if  “achievement” is defined as a skill accomplished successfully, then I’m not positive that my kids are an achievement I can claim. People tell me my three daughters are incredibly polite, easy to talk to, smart, sensitive and engaging, all traits that make a Momma proud. But they (and my husband) have a lot to do with that. So, I’ll claim partial credit for the kid thing.

4. We all have imperfections, so we think. The truth–we are all perfectly imperfect. What are your not-so-perfect ways? What imperfections and quirks create who you are–your Identity?

  • I’m a huge fan of imperfection. In fact, my former business partner and I based our communications company on Wabi Sabi, the Japanese philosophy that values impermanence and imperfection. I feel that perfection is highly overrated, and often becomes an excuse when we can’t find a way to move forward. It’s easy to say,  “I’m not finished with this project because I’m a perfectionist.” About 15 years ago, I received the best compliment from a colleague when we worked together on the design of marketing materials. I wanted to keep tweaking the design, claiming,  “I’m a perfectionist.” He looked at me and said,  “With all due respect, Jen, you’re NOT a perfectionist. You usually know when to let go and move on.” Wow, I thought, that was a great relief and gave me a sense of freedom.


  • With that said, I happily embrace my imperfections, and I have many. I’m not a perfect Mom: I don’t always say the right things to my kids at the right times, and I often let them down as a result. I’m certainly not a perfect wife: I get mad at my husband when he doesn’t  “get me,” and I often miss cues when he wants me to get him. I’m not always a great friend: I’ve been known to put work before my friends and I forget to check in on them. I’m also chronically late and often disorganized. None of these imperfections I intend or embrace as positives. I strive everyday to listen to the people who matter to me to make sure that I pay attention to what matters to them. I strive to be better, and I always want to improve, evolve and change  …  but I’m not afraid of imperfection. In fact, there’s something unique and beautiful in imperfection, which is a very Wabi Sabi thing.

5. “I Love My…” is an outlet for you to express and appreciate all the positive traits that make you…well… YOU! Sharing what you love about yourself will make you smile, feel empowered, and uplift your spirit and soul. (we assure you!) Identity challenges you to complete the phrase “I Love My…?”

I’m an optimistic person and I love to share that positive attitude with others, usually with some sort of creative flare. Not much stops me from turning a bad situation into something good, or finding a great opportunity from something that someone else would view as a negative. Perhaps that lends to my energy as well.

About the author

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Jen Miller

Jen Miller, a consumer experience and marketing executive, and her team leads a bi-monthly series of workshops, on-line resources, discussions and clinics to help women navigate their way through the car buying to service experiences: after all, for many women, the car buying and service experiences are a metaphor for empowerment and tackling challenges women didn’t think they could overcome. Designed to help women build confidence and connect with other women in North Jersey, the Mustang Sally’s Now program provides tools and resources on topics such as negotiation acumen, finance, business kills, communication – and yes, cars. -- AND

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