Buying a new car is a big investment for most people, so it’s important to find the right model at a good price that fits within your budget. Have you considered a used car? Often a used car that’s in good condition can save you money. When shopping for a used car, here are some important tips to protect your investment.
Do Online Research
When shopping for a used car, it’s important to shop around and compare models and prices. You can save money up front, but you don’t want to end up with a lemon. Do online research to identify models that have a good track record with performance and maintenance. Consumer Report publishes a list of the best and worst used car models each year with reliability reports and specific problems of each model. When you’re looking for a particular make and model, this information can help you make the right decision.
Read the Buyer’s Guide Label
All used cars sold by an auto dealership are required by law to have a window sticker that contains any sale related information on the car. If the car is being sold in “as is” condition, the buyer’s guide label must show if there’s any warranty and if the dealer is willing to pay for any repair costs. If you’re looking at a used Toyota Prius, this information showing a Toyota model cost of ownership must be clearly posted on the car.
Inspect The Car
You want to inspect the exterior and interior carefully, and have your mechanic do a thorough inspection under the hood if possible. Shop for a used car during the day when there’s adequate light to inspect the car.
Body – Check closely for dents, scratches and rust, particularly under the car. Rust or a misaligned frame is a red flag that you want to avoid. Look for a uniform paint color. Variation in color can indicate that the car’s been repainted to cover up body damage.
Tires – If a used car shows less than 20,000 miles on the odometer, it should still have its original tires, unless they were damaged. A car with low-mileage and new tires could indicate a change in the odometer reading.
Instrument Panel –Turn the ignition switch to on and make sure all the warning lights come on, then start the engine to test the heater and air conditioner.
Seats – Sit in all the seats to make sure the frames are good. Test the seat adjustments to make sure they’re working properly, especially in the driver’s seat.
Odors – If you smell a strange odor, this could be a red flag in a used car. A musty smell may indicate water damage, while an acrid smell may indicate heavy smoke. Strong odors are hard to remove, so it’s best to keep looking.