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5 Things to Check Before Purchasing Your Used Car

Many people choose to buy a used car instead of a new one as a way to save money and get the same features or model. While opting for a pre-owned model will typically reduce the amount you pay, you need to be careful and ensure that the vehicle is in good condition. Otherwise, you may end up losing money on the purchase. To protect your investment, always check a few key things before you buy a used car, regardless of the brand or style.

Vehicle History Report

You should always ask to see a copy of the vehicle history report of the used car you are planning on buying. If the seller doesn’t have a copy handy, ask for the VIN and look it up yourself. Although it costs a few dollars to get a detailed report, you can get a basic one for free, and the detailed ones are well worth the money. They will let you know whether the vehicle you are looking at has been in any accidents and double check that the title history is what the seller says.

Maintenance Performed

A car will last much longer if it is well cared for. Because of this, you should always ask for proof of regular maintenance. The seller should have service records or something similar indicating that the used car received all of its scheduled maintenance so you can trust the components to keep working for a long time.

Recalls and Other Issues

The vehicle history report should give you information about any recalls affecting the car in question, and you want to make sure to pay attention to these. Don’t buy a pre-owned vehicle with a serious recall for a component that was not taken care of. You should also do a quick online search of the make and model you are considering to see whether there are any particular issues that are common with that vehicle. If there are, consider going with a different model.

Mechanicals and Condition of Parts

Ideally, you will have a mechanic thoroughly inspect the used car before you buy it. If you have some experience, you can do this yourself, as well. Whether you or a mechanic is the one doing the check, you want to look at everything you can think of in the car. Start with the exterior of the car and look for any discolorations, major scratches, misaligned panels, and rust. Inside, check the condition of the upholstery and make sure it doesn’t smell. You will also need to test components, like instruments, controls, the audio system, air conditioning, and trunk. Finally, take a look at the engine when it is cool to check the condition of the various components.

Handling and More on a Test Drive

When you are almost ready to buy a used car, you should always take it for a test drive. This is when you will check whether it handles as it should, the engine works smoothly, and the pedals work. Remember to test-drive it at various speeds and on several different road surfaces if possible.

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