It's not surprising that auto complaints top the complaint list. A vehicle is an expensive and complicated purchase that most people don't do very often.
Here are some important ways to protect yourself:
Get a second opinion about any significant car repair. You'll probably need to pay for the mechanic's time, but it could save you money and a lot of hassles in the long run. Get a written estimate so you won't be surprised by the charge for the diagnosis.
Before buying a used car, check its history so you'll know what you're bargaining for. Most states participate in the National Motor Vehicle Administration, which lets you get information about the title, confirm whether the mileage that shows on the odometer is accurate, and whether the car was previously declared a total wreck.
Don't buy any used vehicle until you have it inspected by an independent mechanic you trust to look for hidden mechanical or safety problems. This is critical. They can spot things you might miss, such as: flood damage or the fact that the vehicle was rebuilt after being in a crash.
I cannot stress enough how important this is. All too often, the Problem Solvers hear from people who have a used vehicle inspected after they purchase it - when it's too late. Chances are the dealer won't take it back, and may not help with the repairs. So always have the inspection before you sign any paperwork.
More Info:You can read the full report at Top Ten Consumer Complaints 2012.