RIVERSIDE COUNTY – Used cars can be quite a bargain. Whether purchased from a dealer, a private citizen, or even a family member, a used or pre-owned vehicle can prove just as reliable as a new vehicle but at a fraction of the cost.
While plenty of people have had good experiences purchasing a used vehicle, consumers know that a used car is never a sure bet. However, shoppers can employ the following tips to learn as much about a used vehicle as possible before any money exchanges hands.
Ask for a vehicle history report.
A vehicle history report can show potential buyers how many owners a vehicle has had as well as the vehicle’s accident history. A vehicle with several previous owners and an extensive accident history is one many consumers would prefer to avoid. Consider it a red flag if a seller, be it a dealership or private seller, does not want to share the vehicle history report. For a nominal fee, the Department of Justice’s National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (www.nmvtis.org) provides information about a vehicle’s title, its odometer data and certain aspects of its accident history.
Test drive the car under as many conditions as possible. When test driving a used car, try to drive it in as many conditions as possible. Test the vehicle on hills, in stop-and-go traffic and test how the vehicle responds to accelerated speeds on the freeway.
Have the vehicle inspected by your own mechanic.
Once the vehicle changes ownership, it will need to pass inspection before you can legally drive it. However, many used cars are purchased as-is, meaning you won’t be protected if the vehicle fails inspection after you have paid for the car. As a result, it’s important to have the vehicle inspected by your own mechanic before any money changes hands. The mechanic can point out any issues with the vehicle and give his recommendation as to whether it’s worth buying.
Research the model of vehicle. Before buying a used vehicle, it also helps to research the specific model. Some models have better reputations for longevity than others. Such research won’t necessarily be easy, but auto-related consumer magazines typically produce stories examining the frequency of repair and maintenance costs with specific models.
Buying a used car requires a leap of faith, but a few tricks of the trade can make consumers much more confident that they will find the right vehicle.