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How to Buy a Used Car and
Get Low Used Car Prices

Buying a Used Car can be an excellent value if you find one that has been taken care of properly. There are plenty of good used cars out there, you just have to know what to look out for.

Following are some tips to help you spot potential trouble areas that you should check out very carefully before you make any decision about buying a used car.

If you follow these tips, and with proper maintenance on your part, the vehicle you choose should last you for many years to come.

buy a used car If you're considering buying a used car from a private owner here are some questions to ask in your initial inquiry: (Hint: You may have to read between the lines of what a potential seller tells you, as the information they tell you may be slightly Sugar Coated!)

  • "Why are you selling the car?"
    You want to be sure the person isn't selling it because of some major problem.

  • "How long have you owned it?"
    If they've owned it for just a short time you want to make sure they're not selling it due to some unexpected major problem.

  • "Does the used car need any repairs?"
    If it needs any minor work you want to know up front, so you can determine if it is even worth pursuing. If you think it is, you can try to negotiate the cost of any needed repairs into the used car price.

  • "How many miles are on the car?"
    Obviously, you want to buy a used car with the lowest mileage on it that you can find. However, that doesn't mean that a car with higher mileage is worn out either! Sometimes, you can find a real value on a used car that has above average miles. Just make sure you check it out very carefully.

    To be extra safe. Always get a Free CARFAX Record Check or a Vehicle History Report at

If you are buying from a car dealer ask if the car comes with any warranty. If they're selling it "As-Is" ask them "Why they don't have enough confidence in the vehicle to warranty it?"

If they do warranty the car, make sure it's in writing, and read all the fine print as far as what's covered and what's not so you know exactly what you're getting into.

For some great tips on extended auto warranties, and to learn how to avoid the HUGE Car Dealer Warranty Price Mark-up go to Extended Auto Warranty Tips!

Used Car Prices Following are some items to look for before you test drive a used car from either a private owner or a car dealer:

  • Rust or Holes in the Body!
    Understand that rust is very difficult to permanently repair. Once a body panel rusts through, the only way to properly repair it is to replace it. There are very few exceptions to this rule.

  • Oil in the Tailpipe!
    This could indicate a serious and expensive motor problem.

  • Mismatches in paint color, ripples in the body and overspray on the car!
    If you find differences in paint color from one panel to another, or you if see overspray on moldings, rubber window seals, in door jams or on the tires be careful! You know for sure the car has had some paint work done to it. And this kind of carelessness usually indicates a poor quality paint repair!

    If you see ripples in any of the body panels, or scratches and roughness that looks like it's underneath the paint then it's likely the car has had some body repair as well. Again, this indicates very shoddy workmanship!

  • Tires in Poor Condition!
    Uneven tread wear could indicate alignment or suspension problems. It could also mean the tires were run under or over inflated. At the very least you should consider negotiating a new set of tires into the used car price!

  • Signs of Excessive Wear in the Interior!
    Torn upholstery or carpets, and flattened out driver's seat could indicate the car was not well cared for, and/or is suffering from a previously over-weight driver!

  • Check Windshield For Cracks or Chips!
    If you find any ask seller to pay for windshield replacement. His insurance may even cover it.

  • Check All Electrical Components!
    Make Sure all lights, turn signals, fan, windshield wipers, horn, radio and other electrical components all work properly. If they don't it could indicate an electrical problem, and believe me, you want to steer clear of any major electrical problems.

  • Be Sure to Check Under the Hood!
    Check all fluid levels. If anything is low, or if the motor oil or transmission fluids are dirty or smell burned, it could indicate a vehicle that was not properly maintained.

    Look at belts and hoses for cracks and wear, and check for any obvious oil or antifreeze leaks.

Buy a Used Car Here Are a Few Things to Pay Attention To While Test Driving the Used Car:

  • Make sure the clutch, if so equipped, doesn't slip or make any noise. To check it put the car in 3rd or 4th gear, slow down to about 10MPH to 15MPH and floor it! If the clutch is slipping, instead of accelerating steadily, the motor will rev up almost like it's in neutral. If it does this you need a new clutch!

  • Make sure the exhaust isn't pumping out black or blue smoke or making excessive noise. If it is the car needs serious motor work, or in the case of a noisy exhaust, it needs part or all of the exhaust system replaced!

  • Make sure the emergency brake holds on a hill, and releases easily without sticking. If it doesn't the car probably needs a new brake cable!

  • Make sure the car doesn't pull, wander or shake. This could indicate an alignment problem, a suspension problem and or a tire problem!

  • Make sure the brakes stop smoothly without pulsating, squeaking or grinding. Also, make sure the brake pedal isn't too low. If any of these conditions exist, the car needs brake work!

  • Accelerate going up a hill to determine engine strength and smoothness. If the car doesn't seem to have enough power or smoothness under this condition, it could indicate the need for a tune up, more serious motor problems or even a transmission problem!

  • Pay attention to how the automatic transmission shifts. You want firm shifts and no unusual noises. If the motor seems to rev up between shifts, or if you notice any hesitation the transmission probably needs work!

  • Check the air conditioning for cold air, and heater/defroster for warm air.

  • Listen for rattles and squeaks. If you hear very many of them the car is getting worn out and old!

Used Car Prices Now, just a few more points and you're on your way to a great used car:

  • Never buy a used car without first getting a Free CARFAX Record Check or a Vehicle History Report from

  • Always have a trusted mechanic look the vehicle over, very carefully, on a lift, before making any decision. This is absolutely essential!

  • When you find a used car that you want to buy, definitely consider buying an Extended Auto Warranty. But...visit the Extended Warranty Tips section of this website before you choose a warranty company. Among other things, you'll find out why you should NEVER buy an Extended Warranty from the car dealer.

  • For more tips on financing that could very easily save you BIG MONEY visit Car Financing Tips.

  • . . . and Remember - there is no 3 day right of cancellation when buying or leasing a vehicle! (Except in CA, where you have to choose it as an option, and pay extra for the privilege.)

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