Steps to Buying a Used Car With Confidence
Steps to Buying a Used Car With
(ARA) - Industry statistics show that almost
three times as many people buy used cars as buy new.
To help consumers make informed decisions in the
process, the experts at CarMax, America's leading used car retailer, have put
together a basic list of the things to check when buying a used car.
1. Check the vehicle's safety features.
Consider a vehicle with air bags and anti-lock
brakes. Not only will they make a car safer, but insurance companies sometimes
give discounts on their rates for cars with these features.
2. Inspect the mileage.
Mileage is a good indicator of the vehicle's age,
and the average consumer will drive from 12,000 miles to 15,000 miles each year.
A late model used car may be more cost-effective and come with many features you
may not be able to afford in a new car.
3. Check the mechanical condition of the vehicle.
If you don't feel comfortable doing it yourself,
have a mechanic you trust check it for you. Fluids, lights, belts, power
steering, the charging system, the air conditioner, the engine cooling system,
the brakes and the suspension should all be carefully inspected for any defects
and wear. And don't forget to test drive the car.
4. Examine the tires.
Uneven tread wear can be a sign that the car may
need an alignment, or that it has damage to its suspension. Make sure the spare
tire is in working condition with no damage or excessive wear.
5. Watch for frame damage.
Seriously damaged cars may be repaired, re-titled
and sold in some cases, masking a vehicle that may not be structurally sound.
When looking at a used car, check for:
-- rust around the fenders and bumpers, around
lights, under doors and in wheel wells
-- cracks, dents and mismatched body panels
Cars that have been previously damaged may be
more likely to have mechanical problems, and do not withstand accidents as well
as cars that are structurally sound.
6. Check for cosmetic problems.
Common signs of wear and tear in used cars
include cigarette burns, dirty upholstery, smoke stains, and paint scratches and
7. Carefully read and understand the terms of any
warranty offered on the car.
Don't hesitate to ask questions of your
salesperson, and be wary of hidden conditions and exclusions that may be in the
fine print. A reputable dealer will answer your questions completely and explain
the details of the warranty.
8. Check the price.
The actual price of the car is only one of many
factors that will determine your total price. Don't forget to compare financing
rates, warranty costs, trade-in values and processing fees. The different
features on the vehicle can also make a price difference. For example, a car
with an automatic transmission is usually going to be slightly higher in price
than the same car with a manual transmission. Research the vehicle you are
considering, and find out what comparable prices are for similar vehicles in
9. Look for a reputable dealership.
Ask around, and talk to previous customers of the
dealer to find out what their experiences were like. A good dealer is more
likely to be fair and up-front in price, value and condition of its vehicles,
and won't pressure you to buy a vehicle you don't want. Hassles should never be
part of buying a used car. Be prepared, and know what you're looking for.