Things to Consider When Buying a Used Car

These days it’s pretty hard to think about buying a new car. Even if your old junker is on its last legs, sputtering every time you start it, idling low, and even stalling out on a regular basis, you simply might not have the extra cash on hand to buy something new (or the credit to secure a loan with a decent interest rate). And with job loss still outranking job creation and the economy at a virtual standstill, you don’t want to get in over your head with a pricy new automobile (that you may not be able to pay for down the road). For this reason, you might be looking to purchase a used vehicle rather than buying brand new, something more affordable that may not be the best, but will offer you a better option for transportation until the recession is over. However, there are some potential drawbacks to buying used that you need to be aware of.

tips for buying used car

1. Lemon laws. Many states do not cover used cars under lemon laws, although some do, so you should certainly check your state’s laws before you buy. Even if you purchase a used car that comes with a warranty of some sort, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you have any recourse should you experience the same problem over and over. Most people confuse warranties and lemon laws. A warranty covers certain parts and services for your car so that if you have problems, the manufacturer will pay for repairs (for a set amount of time). A lemon law allows you to return the vehicle should the same problem occur repeatedly over a specific length of time, thus taking you back to the place you were at before you purchased the car.

2. Certified pre-owned vehicles.One good way to ensure that the used car you buy is in working order is to opt for a certified pre-owned vehicle. These are generally just a couple of years old and they are sold by a dealer, so they often come with a limited warranty. But unlike most other used cars, those that are certified have undergone a rigorous inspection and repairs to ensure that they are running as good as new. They may cost a bit more than other used cars, but they’re still less expensive than brand new.

3. Dealerships vs. private owners. If you opt for a private vehicle owner over a dealership, you will likely pay a lot less money. Unfortunately, you’ll have to pay it all up-front and you may have limited recourse should the car turn out to be a dud. This is a case of buyer beware. You might get a dud from a dealership, too, but if you take them to court, at least you know the business can pay off your settlement (whereas a private seller may not be able to).

4. Accidents. While you’re searching for cars, it really pays to spring for CARFAX vehicle history reports. You can get five for $45 and that money could stop you from purchasing a car that has had a serious accident (with frame damage), severe weather damage, or some other problem that makes it worth a lot less than the seller is asking for.

5. Mileage. Whether you’re dealing with a lot that does car and truck sales or you’re buying from an individual, you need to be aware of what the mileage means. It’s well and good for people to tell you that an automobile is in great condition, but if you’re looking at an engine with more than 100,000 miles on it (and only regular services and repairs) you can bet it’s going to need a pricy overhaul pretty soon. And that’s if it was treated well and cared for. This should be your main consideration when buying a used car.

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