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Buying a Used Car Advice

Used Beaters

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It's easy to find people willing to give you advice when you're buying a new car. Everyone has a story to tell, advice to give, or an "inside" trick. The fact is, no car buying experience is the same as another, so often the advice you get might be outdated, over-rated, or just plain wrong.

The best advice you can get is to have a plan for your shopping and purchase and then stick to that plan. If you're in the market for a minivan or a pickup truck, don't look at sedans or sports cars - even on a whim. You know what it is that you'll need, so look for that and don't waste time on the rest.

The next thing to consider with a used car is reliability. Most of the time, the car you're buying will reflect the care it's received and it's relatively easy to spot a lemon. Here's what to look for to spot signs that the car you're considering is being sold because it's unreliable:

  1. Ask. Don't be afraid to ask the seller, point blank, why they're selling the car. More often than not, you'll get a straight answer. If the answer seems shady, go with your instinct and find another car and seller.
  2. How many miles does the car have? How old is it? Putting these two bits together will tell you whether the car's been over-driven. Cars that have a lot of miles (more than 15,000 per year) are often neglected.
  3. Does it look like it's been taken care of? Is the body as clean as can be expected, is the interior in great shape?
  4. How about under the hood? Does it look clean and free of leaks or buildup? Pull the dipstick and (if the car's cool) remove the radiator cap. Are the fluid levels good? Clean?
  5. Carfax is a good investment if you have any doubts whatsoever.

Those are a good start for your hunt for a used car. For more, read Steps to Buying a Used Car.