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Picking The Right Used Car

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Step 1: Decide what you need

Ask yourself what you need and what you are looking for. Make sure the used car you are thinking about buying is going to be the best car for your needs. Here is a sample list of questions to determine what you need in a used car:

  • Do you go on a great deal of road trips?
  • Do you need a lot of cargo room?
  • How many passengers do you have in your car on a regular basis?
  • Which do you prefer, manual or automatic?
  • Which do you need: 2, 4, or all wheel drive?
  • Do you go off-roading?
  • How long is your daily commute to work and back?
  • Does the seat adjust (if you are shorter or taller and need to adjust)?
  • Do you need cup holders in the car?
  • Is leg room for your passengers an issue?
  • Does the trunk provide sufficient room?
  • Does it have a AM/FM, tape player or CD player?
  • What is the car's top speed?

Step 2: Protect yourself

Thoroughly check on the used car you want to buy. Be sure to get a vehicle history report on the car. This report will tell you if the car was totaled, wrecked, or stolen and can be obtained by using the VIN number. Also look over the car and make sure that all the VIN numbers you can find are the same within the car. The VIN number is normally ingraved or on a sticker in numerous places in the car (inside the doors, the dash, the trunk, engine, and/or quarter panels).

Step 3: Avoid the potential problems.

Cars that are over four years old or have more than 15,000 miles per year are a problem waiting to happen. Even the best maintained cars will break down internally with time and over usage. If the car has been expertly maintained and you have proof of that (service records) than the mileage issue can be flexible. Try to avoid cars that are over five years old and have more than 50,000 miles on them.

Step 4: Get it in writing

Once you have found the car you are looking for, make sure to get any promises in writing and if you can get an extended warranty for a good price, it is a wise investment. Just make sure there are no dumby clauses in the warranty and read over it very well.

Tip: Take your time

Buying a used car can be a very tricky process but if you are careful and take your time, you will be very happy with your car. Don't rush into a used car because it could end up costing you so much in repairs that you would have been better off buying a brand new car that was more expensive.

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Before you buy that used car, find out if it's a lemon, courtesy of Experian.


Signs of a Lemon

  • Cars displaying low mileage. Odometer readings may be rolled back. It is still a common occurance in used cars.
  • Seller will not or cannot show you the repair orders or identity of former owner(s).
  • Vehicle shipped from out-of-state or received in trade from another dealer.
  • Seller is not open about who they are or how to reach them. Many dealers sell lemons by pretending to be regular people selling their own car.
 

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