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Buying a Used Car – Essential Tips

| October 23, 2012 | 3 Comments
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Buying a used car with your hard earned cash is a challenge. When looking at a vehicle the seller can often be nice, but you never know what problems you can inherit when paying for a pre-owned vehicle from a complete stranger. In order to prevent purchasing a lemon, take note of these helpful tips from San Diego Cash For Cars.

Check out the VIN Number or get a Car Fax check.

Looking into the Vehicle Identification Number or VIN is probably one of the best initial things you can ever do when buying a used car. The Internet will have various sites to choose from that will provide the vehicle history on the car online to determine if it was ever in an accident, if it was stolen, mileage check, plus other important data. Some sites do free VIN checks, but only offer limited information. Looking into one of the paid services is recommended as it will provide a complete history. All of them are good and fairly priced.

Have a mechanical professional check it out.

This is IDEAL for obvious reasons, but not always convenient and can cost extra cash. But, if you decide to go see the car (hopefully several like in a checklist manner) try to bring along a qualified set of eyes, ears and special tools that can check out the vehicle if bringing the vehicle to a professional auto mechanic for inspection is not possible. The money spent is well worth the investment.

If either of these two suggestions is not possible to follow through on, do these….

Check the car’s wheel alignment

Stand behind the rear wheels of the vehicle. It will be easy to see if the body of the car is not straight and determine if the rear wheels are not squared behind the front wheels. If it is not even, crooked up or slightly off-center, this can suggest that the car had been in an accident and will have problems.

Look for flood damage
The American Automobile Association reports that thousands of vehicles damaged by flood are moved out of state, receive a clean title and are sold with new clean titles to unsuspecting buyers. Check for dried mud in the crevices under the hood or the back if the trim panels inside. Try and look at the under carriage of the car for rusting. This act alone will reveal much about the car.

Check under the hood
Make sure the hoses have no cracks or tears for the belts. The belts should not feel dry and brittle but strong and resilient. Look for leaks. The engine should look pleasantly ‘dirty’. It should not look too clean in the areas where you are looking for the accumulations of leaks of oil and water marks around and about the engine. See if the water areas on the metal look to be discolored. Then go underneath the car and scan under the body for leaks. YOU SHOULD DO THIS AGAIN AFTER TEST DRIVING THE CAR

Look at the inside of the car

Inspect the interiors of the car doorjambs and the base of the hood to determine that the paint color is not mismatched. If the color differs, it can be an indication that the car has been repainted and had been into an accident.

Drive the car           

Drive the vehicle on the road and freeway to carefully listen and feel for anything that does not seem right. After driving, wait a few minutes and look for any leaks.

Unfortunately, many trusting people don’t know enough about cars and end up making a costly decision when buying a used car. It is all too common hearing news about someone a buying a vehicle that turns out to be a lemon. Using these tips should provide a fundamental level of protection on your behalf when purchasing a used car from someone you don’t know.

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Category: Automotive

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The first thing I always ask is if I can test drive the car. If they say no, I don't even bother. Anybody who won't let you even test drive it is obviously hiding something and doesn't want to really sell the thing.

DougWolfgram 1 Like

I always check Edmunds online to find out what others are paying for similar cars in your area too. 

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