Used Car Buying Tips

Following are some important used car buying tips to follow when buying a used car. Take a few minutes to look them over. You'll be glad you did!

20 Things You Should Do

Before You Start Looking:
Research the car or cars you are interested before you buy.

Start Looking:

Check your local car buyers guide or newspaper classified listing, or search online.

While You Are Looking:

Get a Used Car History Report using each car's unique VIN (Vehicle Identification Number).

Pay an independent certified mechanic to check out the car; make sure frame-damage is one of the things checked for.

Test drive the car on a highway, as well as on local streets; you want to test for pick-up as well as braking ability and alignment/swerving problems. This is one of the top used car buying tips.

What you and/or your mechanic should look for:

Make sure you examine the car in bright daylight; not at night or during rainy weather.

Cold-start the engine; be leery if the car is already running when you get there.

Compare the mileage with the original date of purchase; allow no more than 15,000 miles per 12 months of ownership.

Examine the brake pedal for excessive wear.

Check for dampness in the trunk and around window seals.

Check body edges for signs of rust or corrosion.

Examine engine belts for signs of wear and fraying.

Check all fluid casings, to make sure they are filled.

Carefully examine oil in crankcase; it should be reddish-brown in color, not dark brown or black. See when last oil-change occurred.

Listen for unusual engine noises during idling and while driving.

Check dashboard for any warning lights; make sure all driving and brake lights function properly.

Check the title to make sure all details are accurate and also ask to see a maintenance history, if one exists.

Check for evenness of tire wear and see if all tires are same make and model; check for full-size spare in good condition.

Check into any manufacturer or government recalls; look up any major complaints on the NHTSA Web site. You can search by year, make and model.

When you've chosen a car..more used car buying tips:

Examine details of original warranty to determine what is left for you; make sure warranty is transferable. If there is less than 3 years left on the warranty, you should definitely get an auto extended warranty. Look into financing and insurance options if you have not done so already.

If you're ready to search for a used car, click here.

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more than used car buying tips on our Auto Advice home page

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