What Steps Must I Take Before Buying a Used Car?

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Buying a used car can feel like a very scary situation when it's your first time doing so. There are so many options and sometimes people can be impulsive and end up getting a vehicle that doesn't suit them.

Follow these tips to ensure optimum wellness of your car:

  1. Do your research: It is important to do proper research on the car you're considering buying. You'll have tons of options when it comes to buying a car, so arm yourself with as much information as possible before you make a big decision. When you find a car that piques your interest, ensure there are no major potential problems with it. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration maintains a list of recalls and Technical Service Bulletins, which will tell you about issues with the car.

  2. You found a car you like. Here’s what to do before meeting the seller: You'll want to know if the car has been in any accidents, has failed smog checks, or had other past issues. Get the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) from the seller, which you can use to learn about the car. CarFax is a good source of car history, taking data from insurance companies, shops, and other providers. Also be sure you know your budget, as well as the fair price and full cost of ownership of the car. There are many online resources for determining the average cost of ownership of a particular car. We also recommend getting an insurance quote as well as pricing on registration fees.

  3. When you meet the seller: Always test drive the car. Ask a lot of questions about the car, including why the owner is selling it and whether they have any service records showing regular maintenance. Visually inspect the car’s exterior and interior to see that they are in acceptable condition, and check for signs of accidents or damage. During the test drive, listen for any strange noises coming from the car during acceleration or braking. Be sure to take the car out on a freeway to ensure it operates properly at high speeds. Test the brakes several times during the drive, braking both hard and normally to determine responsiveness. Check the dashboard for any warning lights. Make sure all the various controls (wipers, blinkers, radio, etc.) and the air conditioning and heating systems work.

  4. Get a professional inspection: If you like the car and it is in good condition, have a certified mechanic do a pre-sale inspection to ensure you are buying a clean, mechanically sound vehicle. Our mechanic's inspection will cover the fluids, brakes, electrical systems, cooling system, suspension, engine/exhaust, HVAC, tires, and body. The mechanic will scan the car's various computers for trouble codes and test drive the vehicle, checking for any hidden problems. Should our mechanic discover any problems, he can estimate repair costs and you can use those to better negotiate with the seller. If you would like a step by step guide, consider exploring the How to Conduct a Pre-Purchase Inspection article.


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Recent Pre-purchase Car Inspection reviews

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YourMechanic Pre-purchase Car Inspection Service

Average Rating

4.9/5

Number of Reviews

4,365

Rating Summary
4,059
168
34
34
70
4,059
168
34
34
70

Damian

10 years of experience
416 reviews
Damian
10 years of experience
Toyota Camry - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Merritt Island, Florida
On time and found this car to be a very good buy. Suggested that I have a front end brake job, and the dealer is doing that for me as part of the deal. I am very pleased with the inspection Damian has provided and will call again in the future.
Toyota Corolla - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Melbourne, Florida
Honest and personable, and knowledgeable. Good experience having Damian look over a vehicle I am considering.

Willie

23 years of experience
25 reviews
Willie
23 years of experience
Dodge Avenger - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Long Beach, California
Willie is a hard and reliable worker. Fixed the problem. 3rd experience with him I think. Very satisfied
Kia Spectra - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - South Gate, California
Thanks Willie, for your professional and personal service with this inspection and following up with me by phone! I really appreciate your efforts. You found things that I did not find when I test drove the car and as a result, I decided NOT to buy that car. I informed the dealership contact that I had regarding why I did not buy that car and gave them feedback on improving their own service for the future. I feel the money for the inspection was well spent as I could have made a big mistake and might have bought that car. Thanks to you, I avoided that potential problem. I have since gotten another car and feel good about. You helped me a lot and I thank you again! It is not fun to have one's own car totalled through no fault of your own and HAVE to buy a used car to replace in a short time, like I had to do. So again, thank you, thank you, thank you! ....Roseann

Benji

21 years of experience
94 reviews
Benji
21 years of experience
Ford Thunderbird - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Phoenix, Arizona
This is the second time this week that Benji has inspected a car for me before purchase. His reports are clear and thorough, saving me a lot of money from buying a lemon. He is dependable and honest. Even after the inspections, I kept contacting him with question after question. He answers them all and even sends me additional information. I totally recommend him!
Ford Thunderbird - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Mesa, Arizona
Benji went through a flooding situation to inspect my car. His inspection was thorough and professional. I emailed him numerous times, and he answered each and every one of them. He even has a good sense of humor. Thanks to his hard work and thorough inspection, I was saved from buying a potential lemon. Thanks, Benji.

Attila

18 years of experience
490 reviews
Attila
18 years of experience
Subaru WRX - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Elmwood Park, New Jersey
It was once of the best experience I've had buying a car. I felt more confident then nervous and I would 100% recommend this
Volkswagen CC - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Little Ferry, New Jersey
Attila was absolutely amazing! Very knowledgeable and went over and beyond to give me clarity regarding a vehicle I am planning to purchase. He was very competent and did a thorough pre-purchase inspection for a VW CC. Excellent people-skills!

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