What Steps Must I Take Before Buying a Used Car? | YourMechanic Advice

What Steps Must I Take Before Buying a Used Car?

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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4,334
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Jason

14 years of experience
273 reviews
Jason
14 years of experience
Lexus RX350 - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Jackson Heights, New York
Jason was great! He showed up early and gave thorough feedback on a used car I want to buy. He answered all my questions and gave me very useful information about the car that I can use in the price negotiation. Jason is knowledgeable and professional and I would definitely recommend him and hire him again. It was a very good experience.
Jeep Wrangler - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - New York, New York
Jason was a true professional- punctual, knowledgeable and courteous. Highly recommend him to anyone seeking a pre-purchase inspection.

Junard

10 years of experience
96 reviews
Junard
10 years of experience
Ford Taurus - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Pennsauken, New Jersey
Junard was totally amazing and extremely easy to communicate with regarding my pre-purchase car assessment. He was very thorough and knowledgeable in helping to make an unformed decision about my purchase. He even advised me regarding the functionalities, mechanics, tires and warranty. I am well pleased and very grateful for his services.
Ford Explorer - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Junard did a terrific job. His ability to articulate and also confidently educate and clarify the questions are indeed commendable. I'm extremely happy with his customer-centric approach. He was constantly communicating with me throughout the process which never happened with the previous service provider. He took the time to walk me through the delayed shift phenomenon and how it varies from one vehicle to another. I'm truly fortunate to have used your service and would want Junard to inspect my second car in a heartbeat. Hand-down the best service! He deserves a raise!

Michael

21 years of experience
49 reviews
Michael
21 years of experience
Volkswagen Passat - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Las Vegas, Nevada
Came through on time and did a thorough and quick inspection of the car I just purchased. Really appreciate the service and information!!!
Volkswagen Jetta - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Las Vegas, Nevada
Very professional. Answered questioned. Very knowledgeable. Will call and refer friends. Thank you

Chris

21 years of experience
1899 reviews
Chris
21 years of experience
Mercedes-Benz SLK280 - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Laguna Beach, California
As always Chris is skilled thorough and very informed on Mercedes.. Wish i had him check this car before i bought it.
Mercedes-Benz SLK280 - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Laguna Hills, California
I hired Chris to inspect a car I wanted to purchase. He arrived on time and gave me a very detailed report, took the time to call me after to review details, and share his impression of the car. He was great and very knowledgeable, I would highly recommend him!

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