• How to Purchase Used Cars: A Buyers Guide

    Many people do not know how to purchase used cars. When purchasing a new vehicle is not an option, purchasing a used car can be a cheaper alternative. The problem with purchasing a used vehicle is making sure you get a reliable car and not a lemon. Lemons are cars which have multiple problems and often high mileage. Purchasing a lemon will lead to high maintenance costs and very low reliability. Lemons can also compromise your safety. How do you know whether or not you are getting a good vehicle, and what can you do to protect yourself from getting a lemon? Here are a few things to look for and be aware of:

    • Buy used cars from certified dealers of pre-owned cars and dealers who will give you a good warranty on the car.
    • When buying pre-owned cars, ask to see the maintenance history of the car; avoid salesmen and dealers who cannot produce these items; this is also important when buying a car directly from the owner rather than a dealer.
    • Have the entire vehicle checked out by a qualified automotive technician you trust; some auto repair shops will charge a small fee for this, but getting a car in good condition is well worth the fee.
    • Make sure the odometer is accurate; some shady dealers will turn back the odometer to give the illusion of a car with low mileage.
    • Buy used cars which have had only one previous owner; cars which have had only one owner are usually better maintained.
    • Make sure all of the interior controls work.
    • Check the condition of the door and window weather-stripping; avoid cars with peeling or cracking weather-stripping.
    • Have the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) checked for accuracy.
    • Have all fluids checked before leaving the dealership
    • Start the engine; does it sound good? Is the idle steady?
    • Check for excessive rust and salt deposits under the car and around the tire wells; this could indicate that the car has been in a flooded or heavy snow area; excessive salt deposits will corrode the underside of a car.
    • Find out if the previous owner smoked; second-hand smoke collects on electronic components and can shorten their life.
    • Don’t be pushed into buying a vehicle you are not satisfied with.
    • Don’t sign anything until you are completely satisfied, and the dealer or seller has met all of your needs and concerns.

    Used car buying can be a challenge, but taking the time to check these items and perform a little research will help you to identify shady dealers and avoid getting a lemon. High quality used car dealers usually have a good reputation and a high customer satisfaction rating in their neighborhood. Check on the Internet for customer reviews of local used car dealers. Remembering these things when you go to buy your next used car will save you time, money and sanity.