Car Buying

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

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author photo by Doug DeMuro August 2014

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.

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Buying a Used Car: What Does "As-Is" Mean? - Autotrader