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Tips For Buying A Used Vehicle

Tips For Buying A Used Vehicle

Many consumers prefer to purchase used vehicles and let someone else take the depreciation hit on a newer model. Used vehicles can be purchased from car dealerships, specialty retail outlets like CarMax or from private third party sales. Each option has its own pluses and minuses but most will involve asking similar questions and taking many of the same steps regardless of where you are buying a used vehicle. Lets take a look at some of the best ways to protect yourself as a consumer when shopping for a used vehicle.

Minor Damage

Minor damage as a result of normal wear and tear is expected for vehicles that are a few years old. A scuff here or a scrape there isn't cause for concern but anything more excessive may require closer inspection. Examine both the interior and exterior thoroughly looking for more significant issues. Turn all knobs, operate all windows and seats, pop the hood and examine the engine and of course conduct a test drive. Common issues that present themselves under normal vehicle operation include electrical problems and rattling or vibrating at certain road speeds.

Body Language

While difficult to do, try to examine the body language of the person you're dealing with when buying a used vehicle. If you're good at reading people, their mannerisms and posture can be dead giveaways on whether or not the vehicle has more significant issues. If the seller is overly animated and talking quickly it may be a sign of nervousness or subterfuge. Obviously, if they're evasive and won't directly answer questions then that should be an immediate red flag to move on. If they don't make direct eye contact, fidget or have a dry mouth then those are signs of lying. Basically, they should be friendly and helpful and willing to answer any questions you may have.

Painting Coverup

It is all too common for some consignment and used cars lots to sell vehicles which have been involved in auto accidents and are fixed up and sold to unsuspecting consumers. These vehicles have been declared totaled by an auto insurance company and are essentially sold for scrap or parts. Some unscrupulous mechanics and body shops will superficially make the cars look new even though they are unsafe to drive and prone to future issues. Look for areas with miss matching paint, parts which are newer than other sections of the car and locations which may not have been properly painted and show body putty or pre-existing paint.

Get a Warranty

Regardless of where you buy a used vehicle you should always request a minimum 30 day warranty provided in writing. Warranties can be offered by anyone from a used car dealer to a private third-party. Any individual or business unwilling offer even the most basic warranty for minimal amount of time should be avoided at all cost. The most telling aspect of purchasing a used vehicle is if the salesperson or individual is unwilling to stand behind the vehicle and make the consumer whole with a refund or repair. Too many reputable businesses and people will readily offer a used vehicle warranty so avoid those who won't.

Second Opinion

It is highly recommended to always get a second opinion when purchasing a used vehicle. Not only does this provide an opportunity to conduct an extended test drive but many mechanic shops offer accurate and insightful analysis of the used vehicle for a nominal fee. If you're planning to spend $3,000-$5,000 on a used vehicle then a $100 second opinion from a reputable mechanic should be a given. While some states protect consumers with "lemon laws" for used vehicles, a second opinion provides additional information such as possible future repairs. Even if you legally are able to get a refund, the hassle involved with going to court or waiting for your money can easily be avoided with a second opinion before finalizing a used vehicle purchase.

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