Updated November 9, 2020:

An as is sales agreement is a legal term which refers to the sale of a product that is complete but any problems or issues with it are unknown. "As is" is often a term used in car sales. When looking at vehicles, they are often referred to as:

  • New
  • Used
  • As is

By having the notation "as is," the seller is free from a legal case if there is a problem that occurs after the sale. When a car is sold as is, it can mean that the car is no longer under warranty, and the seller makes no promises about the condition. If repairs are needed, they will be at the expense of the buyer.

Since selling a car as is puts a lot of responsibility on the buyer, making it a higher risk, there are only certain conditions in which a dealer can sell a car as is. To qualify it must:

  • Be less than a specific price.
  • Be a certain age or older.
  • Meet required safety features to allow it to be legally operated after the sale or come with ownership papers stating that it is unsafe to operate in its current condition. The dealer must also legally inform the buyer of the lack of warranty.

As-is sales are the typical types of an agreement involving private sellers, and unless the agreement states otherwise, this status will be assumed. This is because a private seller is not regulated by the same conditions as a dealer. In most states, the car does not have to pass a state inspection before selling. Those buying as-is cars from private sellers cannot bring suit for such issues as:

  • Inaccuracy in the odometer reading.
  • Wrong previous owner information.
  • Failure to disclose a full accident history.
  • A stolen car that has been retitled.
  • The car being declared a salvage in another state.

Research Before Purchase

A buyer can limit his exposure to these types of problems by running a vehicle identification number (VIN) check or requesting a vehicle history report to see the vehicle's past that the seller may not know or may not offer up. Because of the difficulties in legal recourse on an as-is vehicle, it is essential to perform proper research before buying one. When performing your research, you should check for things such as:

  • The average selling price for the make and model car with similar mileage.
  • The problems that drivers may experience with those specific makes and models at the listed mileage.
  • The reliability of the models you are looking at.
  • How many of that specific make and model is on the road.

Aside from requesting a report on the history of the car, you can also have a mechanic perform an inspection before purchasing it. Other tips to follow when working with a private seller include:

  • Meeting in a safe and public place.
  • Ensuring all of the vehicle paperwork comes with the vehicle.
  • Drafting a purchase agreement to protect yourself.

Drafting a Purchase Agreement

When drafting a purchase agreement for an as-is vehicle, you will want to make sure to include the following:

  • Full name and address of both parties involved.
  • A full description of the vehicle, including the VIN.
  • An acknowledgment that the buyer is aware of the as-is status.
  • Signatures of both parties.

Even though a purchase agreement is not considered an official document, it can be a useful tool in the event there are problems with the transaction.

Advantages of an As Is Purchase

There are advantages to buying an as-is product, such as a car, even though they come with higher risks. Some of the advantages include:

  • As-is cars must be under a certain cost to qualify.
  • Private sellers are often in a hurry to sell their cars.
  • Private sellers are not always sure of future problems, so they may be more willing to negotiate on the price.

When buying an as-is vehicle, it is important to remember that the buyer should be aware that a purchase could result in more repair and maintenance costs than originally expected.

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