Buying a used car is often touted as a great way to save money. But that's only true if you don't get a lemon.
If you get the wrong used car, you can spend far, far more in repairs than you ever expected. Here are some ways to avoid a lemon – and really enjoy your great deal!
See if a Warranty is Available
Some used cars are sold "as is," but others have limited warranties. If a warranty is available, research it carefully so you know what's covered and what's not.
A warranty can give you a lot of peace of mind regarding future breakdowns and repairs. Of course, that's not something you can rely on alone – you need to take other steps as well.
Test Drive the Car – Quietly
When you test drive a car, you can get a good sense of how it rides. However, it's also important to listen. And that means being quiet during the drive.
Odd knocking? Squealing belts on starting? Rattling during driving? You need to hear it all.
So don't have the radio on during a test drive – although make sure it works – and don't talk too much during the trip. Just relax, feel, and listen.
Look the Car Over
Check the car inside and out. In the engine, things should be pretty grease-free with no sign of corrosion. Watch out for wet spots, which may indicate leaking, along with melted wires and blackened tubes, which may be a sign of a previous fire.
You should also look for obvious condition issues in the interior and exterior. Dents, scratches, rust, tears in upholstery, and missing knobs are all red flags. You may not think they are a big deal, but they are an indication that the car hasn't been cared for overall.
Have a Mechanic Check it Out
Finally, take the car to an independent mechanic to have it looked over. If you have a mechanic you know, that's a good start. If not, ask your mechanic to suggest someone in the area.
It's important not to have the seller "check it out" for you, or go to someone they suggest. Unfortunately, the world is a crazy place, and you can't trust everyone.
You may have to pay a fee for the look over, but it's a small price to pay for knowing whether you're buying a used car that's good or a lemon.
Buyer Beware – But You Can Get a Great Deal!
If you've done your due diligence, you can buy a used car with confidence. It's a great way to save money and have a reliable vehicle that will last several years!