Buying a used car poses a set of problems that are entirely different from those encountered when buying a new car. But that doesn't mean your search is inevitably hopeless. There are lots of deals to be had, and you can recognize one more easily by keeping the following three tips in mind.
#1: Time of day matters when buying.
This might seem like strange advice to someone buying a used car, but the time of day at which you inspect a vehicle makes a huge difference. Many people schedule initial inspections during the evenings when they've left work and have a few hours to spare. But fading light during the evening hours means that small dents and scratches may become harder to spot. The same is true during rain. So make sure you check out a used car during a sunny morning or afternoon.
#2: Check the vehicle history report.
Checking the vehicle history report is an essential step when purchasing a used car. Major problems encountered during the history of the car are always included in these reports, including salvage titles and "clocking," instances in which the odometer has been rolled back to make it appear as though the car has fewer miles on it than it actually does. Though vehicle history reports aren't free, they are worth spending a bit of money on before making a final decision on a vehicle, and can actually save you thousands of dollars in future repairs and maintenance on a car that turns out to be a lemon.
#3: Have the car inspected by a third party.
After you've obtained a vehicle history report and have looked it over to ensure that it isn't negative, you'll want to take the car to a trusted mechanic to have it thoroughly inspected. If a private party is selling the car and tries to recommend a mechanic to you, or won't allow you to have the car inspected, consider it a red flag. Dealerships usually offer a wide selection of certified pre-owned cars that have passed a multitude of tests, giving customers the peace of mind that they aren't purchasing a car that will fall apart the moment they drive off the lot. If buying from a dealership, ask to see the tests conducted and the full results. Ask as many questions as necessary, and consider going over the results with a trusted mechanic as well.