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Advice On Buying a Used Car

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Everyone has advice for buying used cars, but some tips are better than others. Our Steps To Buying a Used Car are a great start. Here's some more advice to help you make the right decision and get a good deal on your next used car purchase.

First off, think about the type of car you actually need (versus what you might want instead). Will the car be used for commuting, as a second vehicle, as a family run-around car, or what? This need will dictate the style or type of car you're going to consider.

Next, think about reliability and what you expect out of this car. If this is to be a primary mode of transportation, maybe you should consider sticking with certified used cars from dealerships. If this is a second car for recreation or as a backup to your primary vehicle, then maybe that's not as important.

Finally, always take into consideration the mileage (per year and total), maintenance record (if any), and overall shape of the vehicle you're looking at. A vehicle that has had 100,000 miles put on it in only three years has likely been driven very hard and may not have had the kind of maintenance it should.

Look under the hood at the engine and its compartment. Is it clean, dirty, etc? How much wear does it show? Are there obvious signs of leaks, buildup from spills, etc? If you can, open the air cleaner and look at the filter, pull the dipstick and eyeball the oil and transmission fluid (if any), and open the radiator cap (when cool!) to see how the fluids look and that they're at proper levels.

If at all possible, get a Carfax report on the car and definitely test drive it and have a mechanic look it over for you.

Last, but definitely not least, is the price being asked worth what you're getting out of the vehicle? Can it be negotiated down and will it fit your budget? With a used car, you should always expect to have maintenance issues eventually, so plan a monthly budget for car repair savings (say $50 or $100 a month). Expect to immediately have all of the car's fluids and a full tune up done on the car immediately after purchasing it so you can establish your own maintenance schedule for it.

All of these things are important and many are overlooked in the zeal of buying a new vehicle.

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