Tips to Help You When Buying a Used Car or Truck

By: Corey Rozon

Six steps are all it will take to ensure that you are not buying a lemon. Whether this is your first used car or your 20th researching some crucial information before you buy never hurt anyone. One of the key things is to price compare. If the used car is a lot cheaper than it should be worth, alarm bells should start ringing. For those vehicles that fall within the expected price ranged, these tips will help you with your buying decisions.

1) Stains, Leaks & Puddles - Look for stains and leaks in the driveway and garage.

Rust colored stains indicate a leaking radiator.
Black or Brown puddles and stains indicate an oil or transmission fluid leak.
Purple puddles indicate transmission fluid leaks.

2) Why are you Selling? - The first thing you want to do is ask the seller why they are selling their used car. Why don't they like it anymore? Is it not good enough for them? And for that matter what's so great about their new car? Put them on the defense, this way they will have to come up with a quick answer, if they hesitate they may have something to hide. It is best to ask this in person, so you can judge not only their tone, but also their body language. Most people are terrible liars. Also be wary if the seller tries to close the deal too quickly - it could be a good sign they are trying to offload a piece of junk on you.

3) Rebuilt Junkers - Look at all the seams in the car, the gaps should be the same distance apart at the top of a panel as they are at the bottom. Uneven gaps or small dents can suggest accident damage. The paint should match on all panels, and beware of body-kits and custom paint jobs. They may look cool, but they could be hiding damage to the chassis below. Look for over spray on plastic parts, around lights, mirrors and edges of the engine bay.

4) Known Problems - Ask the seller to point out all known defects and problems. When doing your own inspection if you find obvious problems that the seller did not mention there might be more wrong with the vehicle then they are letting on.

5) Proof-of-Service - Ask for all the maintenance records, proof of oil changes and tune-ups. If they don't have it, for all you know the oil has never been changed.

6) Having a Good Mechanic - Taking the used car to get a proper inspection by a mechanic prior to purchasing it is the most effective way of ensuring you won't get stuck with a lemon.

7) Flood Damage - Dealers may also be purchasing used vehicles from the U.S., and may even unknowingly be selling a car that has had flood damage. Before you even leave the lot, here are some steps to see if the vehicle has had any flood damage.
Look for rust on:

door hinges
spare tire
crowbar
jack
metal holdings under the seats

If you find any rusting in these places, it may have had extensive water damage and it is best to move on.

Remember when purchasing a used car, whether it is from a personal sale or a dealer, you want to go with someone you can trust. To give you some piece of mind, going through a dealership is the way to go.

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