What Steps Must I Take Before Buying a Used Car?

buying 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.

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

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