Tips for Buying a Used Vehicle
your homework first to save time and avoid a lemon!
with some general research. Do some reading to
become familiar with some common (and potentially
costly) pitfalls of purchasing a used car from
an individual or dealer. The US Federal Trade
Commission has published a helpful article on
things to consider when purchasing a used vehicle.
This article provides information on requirements
dealers must abide by when selling a used car
as well as financing, and many do’s and
you are buying or leasing a vehicle, these tips
will help you get the best deal and avoid problems.
you start narrowing your search, consider repair
records, consumer reviews, cost of insurance,
fuel economy, in addition to the asking price.
These car buyer guides provide information for
the prospective car buyer including vehicle specifications,
pricing, reviews, dealer locators, insurance information,
financial calculators, and trade-in values for
out the used car prices for the vehicle you are
considering at Kelley
a promising deal?
the seller to show you a CARFAX report for the vehicle. The report can help uncover
odometer rollbacks, and serious accidents and
damage from which the vehicle was salvaged or
a Visual Inspection
- Upholstery stains, cigarette burns, scratches,
gouges, or cuts not only detract from the attractiveness
of your potential new vehicle, but they may
also indicate that the previous owner had a
careless attitude with respect to caring for
and maintaining the vehicle.
- Look for signs of wear that are inconsistent
with the odometer reading or claimed degree
of use. For example, look at the wear on the
brake pedal, floor well carpets, the exterior
paint, etc. Remember to lift up those brand
new floor mats installed by the seller to inspect
the original carpet beneath to judge the wear!
- Ask the owner to show you the maintenance records
with the receipts from the service providers,
if available. Check the dates and compare to
the recommended service schedule in the owners
- In addition to scheduled maintenance, ask to
see the documentation of all repairs made to
the vehicle within the past 2 years (or more
if available). Does it show a trend of increasing
repair costs or frequency? Or, does it show
that the car has a lot of new parts installed
with a lot of life left in them?
- Are the tires worn? Is the tread evenly worn,
or excessively worn at the edges? Bring a penny
with you and insert it between the treads with
Lincoln's head pointing downward. If you can
see all of Lincoln's head, then the tires should
- Check the suspension visually. Is the front
of the car sitting higher or lower than the
back end? If so, the springs could be worn.
Check the shocks and struts by pushing down
on the bumper and releasing. The car should
bounce no more than once. If it bounces twice
or more, the shocks or struts are likely worn.
- Check the engine visually. Ensure the oil level
is full. If it is not, it may indicate a leak
or that the engine burns oil. The oil color
should not be black, as this would indicate
an overdue oil change. If there is an oil change
sticker present on the windshield, consult the
service due date and mileage to see how overdue
the oil change might be. Also look for any fluid
leaks under the hood and on the pavement below.
- Start the engine and listen for unusual noises,
vibrations, or anything else out of the ordinary.
Ensure there is no smoke coming from the tailpipe.
Let the engine warm up and race the engine a
bit, again, listening and feeling for unusual
sounds or vibrations.
- Test-drive the vehicle. Pay attention to how
the car sounds and feels. Does it shake or rattle?
Are there vibrations? Does the car pull to the
left or the right? These are all signs that
some repairs or maintenance are in order.
- As an extra precaution, you may wish to bring
the car to a trusted mechanic of your choosing
to be inspected.
that car still looking good? Great! Before you
make your final decision...
- Check the cost of insurance with your agent.
Insurance costs vary widely due to many factors.
As a significant cost of driving, it should
be checked out in advance.
- Read reviews and consumer publications that
evaluate reliability, repair records, and cost
of parts for the specific make, model, and year
of the vehicle you are considering.
- Call the U.S. Department of Transportation's
Auto Safety Hotline (1-800-424-9393) to get
information on recalls.
checks out! Close the deal.
- Consult with your local Department of Motor
Vehicles, Secretary of State, or other government
agency responsible for vehicle titles and registration
to get the proper procedures and paperwork in
advance of the purchase.
- Enjoy your new car and rest easy that you have
eliminated a number of common pitfalls involved
in many used car purchases.