It can be stressful to buy a pre-owned vehicle. Used cars carry some uncertainty about their history and performance. However, by taking these steps, you can avoid some typical issues that can come with a pre-owned auto purchase:
- Bring someone with you to the dealer who can offer an impartial opinion. Ideally, this is a person who knows something about vehicles.
- Test drive at least once, but more is better.
- Inspect the VIN (vehicle identification number) and use it to check the car history on a site like CarFax. See if the auto has a recall and if necessary repairs have been completed.
- Closely look at the dash when you start the car to see if any warning lights come on or if some of the gauges do not work. Avoid purchasing this type of car.
- Minor damage to the body of the vehicle should not be a deterrent to buying it. However, key issues that involve the frame or structure of the car are often impossible to properly repair and are unsafe. A professional inspection can determine if there has been major damage.
- You should stay away from water-damaged cars, as they are more susceptible to rust, mold and electrical problems.
- Salvage vehicles or those that have been rebuilt are not a wise investment. They come with a branded title from a state agency.
- Having a reliable mechanic look over your choice can give you some peace of mind. Evidence of one or two minor problems should not be cause for concern but can give you some negotiating room in determining the purchase price.