When you’re in the market for a used car, you can often find a better deal by buying from an individual rather than a dealership. You can sometimes find something nice for hundreds if not thousands of dollars less. The only caveat is that you’re taking on a potential liability in that once you make the sale, you have no guarantees or anywhere to turn if the car isn’t all that it was cracked up to be.
This is why you need to know how to check out a used car before buying. Now, I know what many of you are thinking, and no, you don’t need to be a car expert to be able to tell if there is something wrong with a car.
The people at dmv.org put together a handy guide and checklist for just this sort of thing and I have referenced it here:
Because private sellers are not bound to the same strict oversight as dealerships, you, to protect yourself, must adopt a scrupulous mindset when inspecting a used car of interest. To help you discern if the vehicle is worthy of buying, bring the following items with you for inspecting the vehicle:
- A notebook and pen for taking notes and recording the vehicle identification number, mileage and asking price
- Paper towels for checking the engine oil
- A small flashlight for looking under the car for leaks and corrosion
- A small magnet for detecting concealed body work
- A CD for testing the car stereo
- Inspection checklist (detailed below)
- If possible, an auto history report
With these tools in hand, run down the following checklist. To make sure you hit everything, print this page and take it with you when conducting your inspection.
- Walk away if the seller objects to your inspection
- Don’t feel rushed while inspecting
- Try to get a mechanic to assess checklist results
- Use any flaws against the asking price
So whether you’re buying the car from an individual, auction, pawn shop (yes, they do often have used cars: http://uspawnjewelry.com/#!featured-items/ncs0q), be sure to thoroughly check out what you’re buying.