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Are All Used Cars Sold As Is?

Are All Used Cars Sold As Is?

When shopping for a used car, you’ll often come across the phrase “sold as is” in the listing details or posted on the vehicle itself. This simple term can have major implications on your ownership experience and rights as a buyer. While purchasing a used car as is comes with increased risks due to the lack of a warranty, it also opens up the possibility of scoring an affordable vehicle that just needs a little TLC.


This comprehensive guide will explore everything you need to know about buying a used car as is. We’ll break down what as is legally means, protections that still apply, and smart tips for inspecting, negotiating, and evaluating as is vehicles. While they require caution, as is cars can be a great money-saving option for savvy buyers who enter the deal with eyes wide open.

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What Does ‘As Is’ Mean for Used Cars?

When buying a used vehicle, you’ll often see the phrase “sold as is” which legally indicates the car is being sold without any warranties and in its current condition. This transfers all ownership and liability for the vehicle’s condition over to the buyer.

Specifically, as is means:


  • The used car is sold without any warranties – Once purchased, the seller has no obligation to repair issues that arise
  • The seller is not liable for repairs – As is transfers responsibility for the car’s condition and any mechanical issues to the buyer
  • The buyer takes full ownership of the vehicle’s current state – You own all existing flaws, defects, or problems


Essentially, by selling a used car as is, the seller is absolved of any liability or requirement to fix issues with the vehicle after the transaction. The buyer assumes responsibility for the car and any maintenance or repair costs going forward.


Why Sell Used Cars As Is?

There are a few key reasons why most used cars are sold “as is” rather than with a warranty:


Allows dealers to avoid repairs/inspections – Selling a used car as is means the dealer doesn’t have to do a thorough inspection or make any repairs before the sale. This saves them time and money. They can sell cars quicker without the hassle of fixing issues.


Transfers liability to buyer – Under an as is sale, the buyer takes on all responsibility for the vehicle once purchased. If problems come up, the seller has no obligation to address them. This removes any liability risk for the seller.


Common for private salesPrivate party sellers almost always sell their used cars as is. Individuals selling their own vehicle do not want to provide a warranty or be liable for issues down the road. As is sales are standard for private party transactions.


Protections When Buying As Is

Even when purchasing a used vehicle “as is”, buyers are not completely without protections under the law. Here are some of the key consumer rights that still apply when buying a used car without a warranty:


Lemon Laws: Though lemon laws were created to provide recourse against manufacturers, some states extend lemon law protections to used car buyers as well. This applies specifically for vehicles purchased as is that have serious safety defects that impair the use, value or safety of the vehicle. Each state has different eligibility requirements, but it’s worth researching lemon law protections in your area.


Legal Action for Undisclosed Issues: If the seller knew about a major defect but did not disclose it prior to sale, the buyer may have grounds to take legal action. This applies to issues that were known to the seller but deliberately hidden from the buyer. Consult a legal professional to determine if you have a case.


Title and Loan Protections: Even when sold as is, basic legal protections regarding clear title transfer, loan payoffs and outstanding liens still apply. The as is designation does not void the seller’s responsibility to provide clear title.


Odometer Fraud: Odometer tampering laws still protect consumers who purchase an as is used vehicle. It is illegal for a seller to alter or misrepresent the true mileage on a car’s odometer. This basic protection remains whether or not the car is sold with a warranty.


Tips for Buying an As Is Used Car

If you decide to purchase a used vehicle as is, there are some important steps to take in order to mitigate the risks:


Inspect the Vehicle Thoroughly Before Purchase

Have a certified mechanic conduct a pre-purchase inspection. They will be able to identify any issues with the engine, transmission, electronics, etc. Test drive the car yourself as well, checking all functions and looking for warning signs like leaks, noises, vibrations, etc.


Review the Vehicle History Report

Purchase a vehicle history report from a company like Carfax or AutoCheck. This will show any accidents, flood damage, odometer rollbacks, and other issues. Make sure the report is clean before buying as is.


Negotiate a Lower Price

Since you are taking on liability for future repairs, negotiate the price down below market value. Calculate potential repair costs and aim to purchase at least 10-20% under similar vehicles.


Only Buy As Is if You Can Afford Repairs

Have a budget available for any issues that arise after purchase. Unexpected repairs on a used car can easily cost $1,000+. Make sure you have savings to pay for repairs or avoid as is vehicles altogether.


Consider Your Budget and Skills

When considering an as is used car purchase, you’ll want to honestly assess your mechanical skills and budget for repairs. Buying a car without any warranty means you’ll be responsible for addressing any issues that arise after purchase. Take time to weigh the risks of buying as is versus the potential cost savings from a lower purchase price.

Think about your ability and willingness to troubleshoot problems and make repairs yourself. Used cars often require some maintenance and fixing minor issues can be manageable if you’re handy. But major repairs like an engine rebuild or transmission replacement can run into the thousands, so know your limits. Be realistic about your mechanical skills before taking on an as is car.

In addition to mechanical aptitude, look at your budget and savings to cover surprise repairs. While a thorough inspection prior to purchase can reveal existing problems, some issues may not surface right away. Without a warranty, you’ll need to pay out of pocket for any repairs the car needs. Have a fund available to cover potential maintenance costs down the road.

Before buying an as is used car, inspect it carefully to identify any defects or wear items. While test driving, listen and feel for any problems. Have a mechanic you trust do a pre-purchase inspection to catch issues you might miss. The more diligent you are upfront, the fewer surprises you’ll encounter later on. Take time to fully vet an as is vehicle so you know what you’re getting into.


Have a Mechanic Inspect First

One of the most important steps when buying a used car “as is” is to have a mechanic you trust conduct a thorough pre-purchase inspection. Don’t rely solely on a test drive yourself. Take the time to have an expert look under the hood and examine all aspects of the vehicle before agreeing to buy.

On your test drive, make sure to carefully test all functions including the transmission, brakes, electronics, and controls. Drive at different speeds and on different road conditions. Be on the lookout for any issues or strange noises.

During the inspection, a mechanic will check the engine, drivetrain, suspension, brakes, tires, and more. They can spot leaks, worn parts, corrosion, and other problems. Have them scan for error codes and assess the vehicle history. A good inspection will reveal most existing or developing issues.

In addition to a mechanic’s inspection, closely review the vehicle history report yourself. Look for any evidence of prior accidents, flood damage, or other problems. Cosmetic issues may hide more serious underlying damage.

Taking these steps upfront will help uncover existing defects or problems with a used vehicle before purchase. Foregoing a test drive and inspection greatly increases the risks of buying an as is car, so this is an essential part of the process.


Review the Vehicle History Report

One of the most important steps before purchasing a used car is to get a vehicle history report. Services like Carfax and Autocheck provide detailed records of a car’s history using its VIN number. These reports can uncover critical information that could impact your buying decision.

Specifically, you’ll want to look for:


  • Accident damage – Has the car been in any major crashes that could cause structural issues?
  • Odometer rollbacks – Has the true mileage been altered to show lower miles?
  • Title issues – Are there any problems with the car’s title or ownership history?


A vehicle history report from Carfax or Autocheck will compile data from multiple sources to provide a comprehensive overview of the car’s past. This independent third-party information helps protect against fraud and provides assurance that the vehicle is accurately represented.

While not foolproof, a clean history report is a must when considering an as-is used car. It provides vital clues about how well the car was maintained and can help you avoid expensive hidden problems down the road.


Negotiate a Lower Price

When buying a used car “as is”, the price should reflect the lack of warranty and the risk you are taking on. Since the seller is absolved of liability for issues after the sale, you have the right to negotiate a lower price.

Before agreeing to a price on an as is vehicle, request that the seller lower it to account for potential mechanical problems or repairs that may arise down the road. Make it clear you expect a discount since you’ll be responsible for any future costs.

Come armed with average repair estimates and prices of similar vehicles with warranties. Use this data to argue for a fair price reduction. You’ll likely need to negotiate down at least 10-20% off the asking price.

If the seller won’t budge on discounting an as is car, be ready to walk away. There are other vehicles out there, and you don’t want to overpay. Stay firm on getting a lower price that reflects the lack of protections.


Weigh As Is vs. Certified Pre-Owned

When shopping for used cars, you’ll often see the options of “as is” vehicles or certified pre-owned (CPO) from dealerships. It’s important to understand the key differences between these two used car categories.

Certified pre-owned vehicles have undergone a rigorous inspection by the dealership and any issues found are repaired prior to sale. This provides buyers with extra peace of mind about the car’s condition. CPO cars also often come with extended warranty coverage to protect against future repairs for a certain time period or mileage. However, these extra benefits mean that CPO cars typically have a higher price tag than similar non-certified vehicles.

As is cars provide no guarantees about quality or condition. The lower price may seem attractive, but all responsibility for future repairs falls on the buyer. These vehicles should be thoroughly inspected by a trusted mechanic before purchase to identify any problems the seller hasn’t disclosed.

When deciding between as is and CPO, consider your budget constraints along with your mechanical skills and appetite for risk. Opting for a certified pre-owned car means paying more upfront but having warranty protection against covered repairs. As is vehicles require taking on liability for all issues that arise but allow buyers who are handy with cars to get a lower price.


Know Your Rights and Recourse

Even when a used car is sold “as is”, buyers still have certain legal rights and options for recourse if issues arise after purchase. Here are some key protections to be aware of:


Lemon Laws – Though uncommon, some state lemon laws may provide protection even for used vehicles that have serious safety defects. The laws vary by state, but generally cover new vehicles within the first 1-2 years or 12,000-24,000 miles. Some states extend lemon law coverage to certified pre-owned vehicles as well.


Truth in Lending Laws – Federal truth in lending laws require dealers to provide accurate information on any outstanding loans or liens on a vehicle. If a dealer fails to disclose a lien, that could potentially violate truth in lending protections.


Legal Action for Undisclosed Issues – If a dealer knowingly failed to disclose mechanical issues or defects with a vehicle before selling it as is, the buyer may have grounds for legal action. This requires proving the dealer was aware of problems and did not disclose them.


Small Claims Court – For minor disputes under a certain dollar amount (often $5,000-$10,000), you may be able to sue in small claims court for breach of contract if the dealer did not uphold the terms. This doesn’t require a lawyer.


While “as is” limits warranties, it doesn’t absolve sellers of all legal responsibilities. Consumers still have recourse options if a dealer acts in bad faith or violates other sales regulations. Do your research to understand your rights before purchasing an as is used vehicle.


As Is Doesn’t Mean No Warranty

One common misconception when buying a used car “as is” is that you have absolutely no warranty or recourse. However, that’s not always the case. Here are a few important things to know about warranties on as is vehicles:

Manufacturer warranty may still apply to used cars – Most new vehicles come with at least a 3 year/36,000 mile bumper-to-bumper warranty and a 5 year/60,000 mile powertrain warranty. If the car is still within this coverage period, the original manufacturer warranty transfers to subsequent owners. Make sure to ask the seller what, if any, original warranty is remaining.

Aftermarket warranties are an option – If the original warranty has expired, you can look into purchasing an aftermarket warranty from a third party provider. This adds a layer of protection against expensive repairs down the road. Just be sure to closely review what is and isn’t covered.

Lemon laws may provide recourse – Even as is cars can sometimes qualify for protection under state lemon laws if they have serious safety defects. This provides buyers with some leverage if undisclosed issues arise.

While an as is purchase limits your protections, it’s good to be aware of any warranties that still apply. Don’t assume you have zero coverage just because it’s sold as is.


When As Is Makes Sense

Buying an as is used car can make sense in certain situations. Here are some cases where accepting a car without a warranty may be a reasonable option:


If You Have Mechanical Skills and Tools

If you are handy and have the ability to diagnose and repair issues yourself, an as is car gives you the freedom to fix problems without relying on a dealer. Just make sure you have the necessary skills, equipment, and workspace to take on repairs.


On Older, Inexpensive Used Cars

For an older, low-cost used car, the price difference of a certified pre-owned model may not be worth it. The cost of an extended warranty could exceed the value of an older vehicle. As is can be reasonable for basic transportation cars priced under $5,000.


If You Can Afford Potential Repairs

If you have funds set aside for maintenance and unexpected issues, buying as is may work. Have a repair budget in mind and factor it into negotiations. Only go as is if you can manage paying for problems down the road.


Avoid As Is for High-Risk Cars

While an as is used car can seem like a good deal, there are certain vehicles you’ll want to be extra cautious about purchasing without a warranty. Some types of used cars come with inherently higher risks that make buying as is ill-advised.

Luxury and high-performance vehicles are often sold as is because they are prone to more mechanical issues and costly repairs. Sports cars, SUVs, and luxury brands like BMW and Mercedes should be thoroughly inspected before buying as is. Their complex systems can fail outside of warranty coverage.

Salvage title and modified cars are also riskier as is purchases. If a car has had major collision damage, there could be underlying structural issues or unrepaired components. Customized vehicles may not have had work done properly. Avoid these without warranties.

Finally, used cars without service records or a complete vehicle history report should be approached with caution. Not knowing how a previous owner maintained the car makes it hard to assess condition and reliability. Lack of documentation is a red flag when buying as is.



In summary, the term “as is” when buying a used car means the vehicle is being sold in its current condition without any dealer warranty. As a buyer, it’s important to understand the implications of an as is purchase and to take steps to protect yourself.

Throughout this guide, we covered key tips like having a mechanic inspect the vehicle thoroughly prior to purchase and negotiating the price down to offset future repair costs. Reviewing the vehicle history report and testing all functions during a test drive can also help assess an as is car.

While most used vehicles are sold as is, buyers still have some protections from fraud and undisclosed issues. Consider your budget and mechanical skills carefully before purchasing a car without a warranty. Though the lower price tag may seem attractive, make sure you fully understand and can handle the risks that come with buying used cars as is.

With the right precautions, an as is used car can still be a smart purchase. But go in with eyes wide open about potential issues down the road. Knowing your rights and leveraging the tips provided here can lead to a positive as is car buying experience.

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Questions About Buying As Is Used Cars

Yes, in Canada when you buy a used vehicle from a private seller or a dealer, it is usually sold on an “as is” basis unless otherwise specified in the contract. This means the vehicle is sold in the condition it is in at the time of sale, with no implied warranties. The buyer takes responsibility for any existing or future problems.

When you buy an “as is” used car in Canada, it means you accept the vehicle in its current condition with all its defects. The as is designation absolves the seller of having to make any repairs or provide compensation for problems that arise after the sale. You won’t have any recourse if issues come up later unless there was fraud or the seller breached the contract terms.

No. When dealers label used cars as “as is”, it typically means they are not providing any warranty coverage. The vehicle is sold without guarantees as to its condition or working order from the dealer. However, some used vehicles may still have remaining manufacturer’s warranty coverage that transfers to the new owner.

Yes, you can try to negotiate the removal of the as is designation when purchasing a used car in Canada. This would require the dealer to provide some type of warranty that guarantees the working condition of the vehicle for a set time period. You’ll likely need to pay more for the vehicle to get the dealer to agree to this.

There are not many legal protections when you purchase an as-is used vehicle in Canada. However, dealers still cannot misrepresent details about the car or fail to disclose any known material defects. Lemon laws also would not apply to an as-is car. Your best recourse is to have the vehicle thoroughly inspected by an independent mechanic before purchase.

No. Canada’s lemon laws only cover new vehicles with an original manufacturer’s warranty that was purchased or leased from an authorized dealer. They do not apply to used vehicles sold as is without warranties from independent or franchise car dealers in Canada. The buyer has no recourse under lemon law if issues arise later with an as is used car.

Yes, it’s legal for car dealerships in Canada to charge extra fees on top of the selling price when vehicles are sold on an as-is basis. These fees may include administration or documentation fees. While some provinces regulate the amounts that can be charged, dealers have the right to recover expenses related to selling older, as-is vehicles.

Before buying any used vehicle as is in Canada, you should:


– Have a mechanic you trust do a pre-purchase inspection to uncover any issues.


– Test drive the vehicle under various conditions.


– Review all vehicle history reports.


– Determine the costs of repairs or maintenance items that may be needed.


– Ensure you can afford issues that may come up with an as-is car.

Unfortunately there are limited options under Canadian law if an as-is used car breaks down shortly after purchase from a dealer, unless you can prove fraud or misrepresentation. Your best recourse is to negotiate with the selling dealer if issues arise very soon after sale. You may be able to get them to cover certain repair costs as a goodwill gesture.

No, dealers in Canada are not allowed to sell used vehicles as is that are in clearly unsafe working condition. All cars must meet basic safety standards to be legally drivable under provincial vehicle sales regulations. But when sold as-is, the dealer has no responsibility for more minor mechanical defects or maintenance issues the car may have.

Private sellers are not bound by the same consumer protection laws and regulations as registered auto dealers in Canada. There is more risk buying as is from an individual. However, private sellers typically sell cars much cheaper than dealers. You’ll want to be even more diligent inspecting the vehicle and verifying its history when considering an as-is car from a private party.

No, once you have signed the sales contract and taken delivery, it is not possible to cancel the as-is purchase of a used car from a dealer in Canada if you simply change your mind about the vehicle. As-is means the car is sold as it is at the time of sale, with no returns or exchanges allowed barring very exceptional circumstances involving fraud/misconduct.

Purchasing an extended warranty from an independent provider for extra coverage can provide useful protection when buying a used car as is in Canada. It can help cover repairs that may arise after the purchase since as-is vehicles do not come with any dealer or manufacturer warranties covering defects. Just be sure to research companies and plans carefully first.

The as-is designation essentially voids the implied warranties when buying a used car in Canada. However, if the seller makes verbal promises about the vehicle’s condition that go beyond the contract, misrepresents details, or fails to disclose any known material defects, the as-is designation may also become void. These actions could provide the buyer with recourse later on.

It is possible to sue a used car dealer in small claims court in Canada if they sell you an as-is vehicle but fraudulently conceal defects they were aware of. You would need strong evidence the dealer knew about problems and deliberately hid them through deception. Winning these types of as-is claims is difficult, but small claims may allow recovery of certain costs.

When purchasing a classic or collectible vehicle as is in Canada, extra precautions should be taken given the likely age and unknown maintenance history. Be vigilant for signs of flood damage, major engine/transmission issues, rust, and accident repairs. Ensure classic vehicles have not been illegally imported into Canada and get purchase terms clearly spelled out in writing.


Typically no, once an as-is used vehicle is purchased from a dealer in Canada, you cannot return it solely on the basis that it fails to pass a provincial safety inspection. The buyer assumes responsibility for the current mechanical state and roadworthiness of the car under the as-is agreement, unless the dealer specifically violated terms related to safety/standards.

To better protect your consumer rights when buying an as-is used car in Canada, have the vehicle thoroughly inspected first, review all vehicle history documentation, get all verbal claims or promises in writing, ensure the contract specifies as-is clearly, pay via credit card for potential dispute resolution options, join an auto club for roadside assistance protection, and extend any remaining manufacturer warranty coverage if possible.

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