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How to Choose a Used Car

Looking for a new car can be an exciting time. Since most consumers love buying brand new, why would anyone consider buying a used car over new?

Well a few reasons:

    • Used cars don’t lose as much value
    • You can find a used car that has the same features as a new car but costs less
    • Used cars may have lower insurance rates

While all of these are great reasons to buy a used car, knowing how to pick the right one is essential. Here are a few tips:

Inspect the Car Carefully

a used car

The first step is to find a used car that’s in good condition. A car that has been taken care of will hold on to its value much better than one that hasn’t.

A few important areas to inspect include:

Back and Front Seats

Ensuring your car is a comfortable ride is key, so check for any rips, stains or burns in the upholstery. Don’t forget about the ceiling and floor too!

Engine

Make sure to open the hood and check the oil level and color. A car that’s been well-maintained will have clean oil that’s a golden color.

Body

Look for any dents, scratches or rust on the body of the car. Sometimes, you find a new-ish car with an extremely low price tag as the owner tries to skip hail damage car repair and instead just sell the hail damaged car.

Hail can cause micro dents that can end up costing a lot for repair work. If you buy a hail damaged car and want to fix it, know that repair can add up to thousands of dollars. Use this calculator to get an estimate of hail damage repair costs before you decide to buy that car.

Tires

Check for any bald spots, cracks or bulges on the tires. If you’re unsure about the condition of the tires, ask to have a professional take a look.

It’s also recommended to give the car the smell test. While it won’t have that new car smell, cigarette smoke and mildew can be particularly difficult to remove.

The smell of burning oil or burning gas are much more serious, as they can indicate deep engine problems. Test them after the car has been running for a while.

Take the Car for a Test Drive

This isn’t about seeing if you like how it feels (which is still important), but it’s more about seeing if there are any red flags.

Things to be aware when driving include:

    • Do power seats, windows and steering all work?
    • Does the sound system meet your expectation
    • Do you hear any strange sounds from the engine?
    • Does the heat and air conditioning work?
    • Do any engine lights come on while driving?
    • How do the brakes feel when stopping?
    • Does the car shift fine?
    • Does the exhaust smoke seem normal?

It’s also a good idea to bring along a friend or family member who knows a lot about cars in case you miss something.

Assess the Car’s Age and Its Mileage

Cars depreciate on average 60% in the first 5 years on the road, but this isn’t always an indication if a car is a good deal or not.

A car with 100,000 miles that’s only a few years old can be in better condition than a car with 50,000 miles that’s much older.

The best thing to do is try and find a middle ground between an age for a car and how many miles you are comfortable having on it. CarExpert provides good car reviews that might help you in choosing the best car for you.

We hope you use these tips the next time you’re in the market for a used car!


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Tips on how to buy a used car

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