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Tips on How To Buy a Used Car!

By Tony Iorio

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. Here are some tips to guide you in choosing the right vehicle.

If you're considering buying from a private owner here are some things to ask in your initial inquiry:
  • "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 - again - some major problem.

  • "Does it need any repairs?" If it needs any work you want to know up front, so you can determine if it's even worth pursuing, and also so that you can negotiate the cost of any needed repairs into the selling price.

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

You can check out used car prices at Kelly Blue Book. Just remember to take these prices with a grain of salt! Used car prices are Very Subjective due to many factors like overall condition of the car, miles, tires, paint,etc.

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! Don't they have enough faith 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 to what's covered and what's not.

For Some Great Tips On Extended Auto Warranties Click Here!

Following are some items to look for before you test drive the car:
  • 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.

  • Oil in the tailpipe.
    This could indicate a serious motor problem.

  • Mismatches in paint and overall body condition.
    You may find indications of a past accident or rust repair.

  • Tires in poor condition.
    Uneven tread wear could indicate alignment or suspension problems. It could also mean the tires were run improperly inflated. At the very least you should consider negotiating a new set of tires!

  • Signs of excessive wear in the interior.
    Torn upholstery or carpets, and flattened out driver's seat could indicate the car was not cared for very well, or it's simply suffering from a previously overweight driver!

  • Windshield for cracks or chips.
    If you find any ask the seller to pay for windshield replacement.

  • Make sure all lights, turn signals, fan, windshield wipers, horn and other electrical components all work properly.
    If they don't it could indicate an electrical problem.

Some things to pay attention to during the test drive:

  • Clutch, if so equipped, doesn't slip or make any noise.

  • Exhaust pumping out black or blue smoke or making excessive noise.

  • Emergency brake holds on hill and releases easily.

  • Make sure the car doesn't pull, wander or shake.

  • Make sure brakes stop smoothly without pulsating, squeaking or grinding. Also, make sure brake pedal isn't too low.

  • Accelerate on a hill to determine engine strength and smoothness.

  • Pay attention to how transmission shifts. You want firm shifts and no unusual noises.

  • Check Air Conditioning for cold air, and heater/defroster for warm air.

Now just a few more points:

  1. Never buy a used car without first getting a Free CARFAX Record Check or get a Vehicle History Report from You don't want a car that was in a bad wreck, in a flood or that was designated a Lemon and bought back from the original owner by the manufacturer. These reports may also allow you to track the vehicle's mileage so you can make sure the odometer wasn't turned back.

  2. Always have a trusted mechanic look the vehicle over, very carefully, on a lift before making any decision.

  3. Arrange financing before you make a deal. For some very valuable information on financing a car go to Car Financing Tips!

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