Choosing to purchase a used vehicle can be a great decision. With used cars, you get a great value on a car that is built to last for many years to come.
In fact, a recent Consumer Reports analysis found that today’s five-year-old cars have one third fewer problems, on average, than five-year-old cars in 2007. That’s a testament to the higher quality and durability of used cars found on the market today.
However, even the cars that you perceive to be the safest used cars can have problems — and knowing how to detect these problems is vital. Here are the three steps every individual should take before making the down payment on any used car:
Have the car inspected by a certified mechanic
You won’t know which used cars are the safest used cars until a trusted, certified mechanic tells you so. This is especially true if you plan to buy a used car from an independent seller rather than a car dealership. People are very strange these days, and many people are prone to lying about their car’s problems in order to get rid of it. On average, nine out of 10 used car buying disasters can be prevented by having the car inspected by a mechanic.
Research the car’s history online
There are a number of websites today that offer comprehensive background checks on used cars to ensure the seller is really telling the truth about the car’s history. For example, if a car had received flood damage, a seller could bring the car to a different state, wash its title and tell you there is no flood damage it all. CarFax.com and the National Insurance Crime Bureau at NICB.org are both great resources to discover these problems.
Examine used car rankings
Lastly, anyone looking to buy the safest used cars should peruse Consumer Reports’ annual auto rankings. These rankings offer a complete rundown of the best used cars with the least problems — as well as the ones you want to avoid. If you’re not even sure which make or model of car you want, this guide is a fantastic resource.
Have any other common auto service questions about used cars to ask an auto tech? Let us know by leaving a comment below.