ROCHESTER HILLS, Mich. -

Buying a used can can be an intimidating experience.

One family from Rochester Hills found out the hard way, that if you don't do your own research you can run into trouble. They contacted Ruth to the Rescue for help, and the car dealer is promising to make things right.

Julie Abrahamian is a student at Oakland University and was excited to buy her very own car for the first time. She found a 2007 Volkswagen Jetta and says she loved it.

"I saw the car and I knew it was the car I wanted the second I saw it," she told us.

Julie says when she bought the car in January she was told it had about 15,000 miles and had never been in an accident. "The guy that was selling us the car, he was telling us how it was a good car and didn't have any accidents," she told Ruth to the Rescue.

First sign of trouble

In June the air conditioning went out. She took the Jetta back to Huntington Ford in Rochester Hills, where she bought the car and an extended warranty.

After some investigating, mechanics found the car had actually been in two previous accidents, which caused the A-C problem, and would not be covered under warranty.

Julie and her parents say they were blindsided. Julie's mother, Kathy Abrahamian says, "This was a shock to all of us because that was specifically was one of the things we were looking for in a car, a car with no accidents."

The owner of Huntington Ford says he's not sure how the Abrahamian's got that impression the car had a clean history, because his salesman would know better.

Owner Pat Scoggin says, "I would be really surprised if he misrepresented that knowing that behind the scenes is the history of the vehicle."

He points to the Huntington Ford website, which has an Auto Check report on every used car. He says the vehicle histories are there for everyone to see. Though, he says, sales people are not required to share that information with customers in every case.

The Abrahamians say they never asked to see the Auto Check report before buying the car.

"We have a customer at this point that really is unhappy, and we want to make sure we do all the right things," says Scoggin

What does Kathy want for her daughter?  "I want her to be happy, you know she's worked very hard for this car, she saved money for a car."

At this point Huntington Ford has taken the Jetta back and has given Julie a loaner. Scoggin says he's trying to put her in a Ford. but would give a full refund, if that's what it takes to make it right.

Car buying lesson

The lesson here is to use the Carfax or Auto Check to check the history of a used car. Both services track a vehicles history to give dealers and customers as much information as possible about a vehicle.

Remember, a car that has been in an accident can still be a perfectly good vehicle if the repairs were done properly.

Some buyers may want a car with a perfectly good history, while others might weigh a car's past and price, and come to a different conclusion.

We checked with Christopher Basso, public relations manager at Carfax. He sent us a short list of other steps used car shoppers can take when looking for that perfect used car:

  • Shop around for the best value, not necessarily the lowest price
  • Take a test drive
  • Have a mechanic inspect the vehicle prior to purchase
  • Always go with a reputable dealer
  • Certified Pre-Owned cars come with free Carfax Reports and a rigorous inspection already done for you

So, be careful, do your homework, ask the right questions, and you'll be ready to shop for the best possible used car.