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Buying a Used Car: What Does “As-Is” Mean?

If you’re interested in buying a used car, you’ve probably seen the phrase “as is” on the window sticker or on a dealership’s Web site. It’s typically used in conjunction with a warranty: Some cars include a warranty, but some cars are sold as is. What exactly does the term mean?

As Is, No Warranty

The term “as is” is commonly used in the pre-owned car world to describe a car’s warranty status. Specifically, some cars are offered as is, without a warranty; other cars include a warranty.

In general, the term “as is” means that a certain car is available in the condition as it is on the lot. This means that any defects or flaws with the car will be your responsibility as the buyer and won’t be covered by a warranty. In fact, “as is” is usually used in conjunction with the term “no warranty,” just to be sure that the buyer knows he or she is buying a used car as it sits on the lot without any warranty coverage. Dealers are legally obligated to explain to the customer whether a car is being sold as is or with a warranty.

Limitations of As Is

Now that we’ve explained the term “as is,” it’s important to understand why it can be troublesome if you’re the buyer. Unlike a new car, which is almost always sold with a long warranty designed to cover any problems, the defects of an as-is car are the buyer’s responsibility. In other words, if you buy a car as is and the transmission fails a few blocks from the dealership as you’re driving it home, the dealership is typically under no legal obligation to take back the car or cover the cost of repairs.

As a result, you’ll probably want to consider getting any sort of as-is car inspected by a mechanic before you buy it. It will give you some insight into the type of problems that might be lurking under the skin, and it could give you more leverage when the time comes to negotiate a selling price.

Doug Demuro
Doug DeMuro writes articles and makes videos, mainly about cars. Doug was born in Denver, Colorado, and received an economics degree from Emory University in Atlanta. After graduation, Doug spent three years working for Porsche Cars North America. Eventually, he quit his job to become a writer, largely because it meant that he no longer had to wear pants. Doug’s work has been featured in a... Read More about Doug Demuro

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9 COMMENTS

  1. i need some one to review a contract on a car that I am not sure of. As is, I do not want to sign. They have a deposit and if we do not sign they will keep deposit. Help

  2. I am so overwhelmed even as I am typing this. My boyfriend and I just recently purchased a E-250 Cargo Van to deliver dialysis equipment to in home patients. It has not even been a couple of months and  we went to take the Van to get a much needed oil change and the gentlemen at the oil change establishment explained that the previous owner put a butterfly and clogged the area to get the oil change, and to be able to just get a simple oil change we would need the entire part replaced. What do I do, we pay $327.00 a month for this vehicle and I understand now what As is means but I feel like im only agreeing to “As Is” if I am aware of all of the flaws regarding safety, I could careless about appearance. Please share if I am infact just screwed 

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