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What to Check for When Buying Used Cars by:Robert Panosetti

What to Check for When Buying Used Cars by:Robert Panosetti

Buying a used car seems like a risky proposition

. If you are not prepared, you can drive away with a vehicle that is going to be nothing but headaches for you. A shiny coat of paint is not the best way to judge the condition of a used car. Here are a few tips that can help protect you when buying a used car.

It is always better to go to a car dealership when looking for a used car. Individuals selling cars may offer great prices, but it's a lot harder to get back to them if something is seriously wrong with the vehicle. They are more likely to try to cover up major problems with the vehicle as well. Usually, those situations end up in court. A dealership depends on its reputation, and will do everything it can to make sure its vehicles are as advertised.

If you are going to an auto dealer, or to look at a privately owned vehicle, be sure to make a checklist before leaving home. The checklist should include all the parts of the vehicle you need to check to make sure they are in working order. Without a list, it is too easy to overlook some of the more important elements on the vehicle. When you are looking at that shiny roadster, it's easy to forget about checking the windshield wipers, or the door handles. It's best to ask a mechanic for a thorough list of inspection points.

Don't even think about purchasing a vehicle without being able to take it for a test drive. Make sure you are the one driving, as well. Be sure to ask the last time the vehicle was serviced, and ask for a maintenance record if they have one. See if the seller/dealer will be checking the fluid levels and filter conditions before purchase, as well. What to Check for When Buying Used Cars by:Robert Panosetti

Before signing any papers, make sure you are familiar with state laws regarding vehicles in poor conditions. The "lemon" laws will protect you in some cases, but you have to be aware of their specific conditions. Ask about refund policies, and be sure to read the sales documents carefully. If you are buying from an individual, make sure you get a receipt, and that you have some form of contract to sign.

These are a few tips to help you when shopping for a used car. Your biggest allies are common sense and preparation. Never be afraid to think about an offer if you are not sure. Better to miss out on a car than to get stuck with a pile of junk.

About the author

Robert Panosetti is a professional auto trainer and co-owner of, a Lehigh Valley auto dealer.
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