Buying a used car is a great way to save money and avoid a hefty car payment each month. Unfortunately, if you get stuck with a lemon, your used car will soon drain your bank account thanks to endless car repairs. To prevent this from happening, it's important to know the signs of a bad used car deal. Here are four ways to avoid a lemon when buying a used car:
Take Time Researching the Make and Model
When buying an older car, it's especially important to spend time doing research on the specific make and model. A website like Consumer Reports will help you determine if the car you are buying has any known mechanical or safety issues. It's better to buy a car you feel confident will be safe and reliable than to rush into a purchase just because you're afraid someone else will buy it if you don't.
Have the Car Inspected Independently
The next step is to have the car inspected by a trustworthy mechanic. Instead of going for the mechanic suggested by the seller or dealership, choose an independent, unbiased mechanic. If you don't already have a mechanic you trust, ask close friends and family for recommendations or read online reviews to find someone with a reputation for honesty and accuracy.
Your mechanic will be able to tell you of any issues that need repaired, how serious they are, and the estimated cost to fix or replace parts. Sometimes older cars simply need something replaced to due to age (like worn out shocks, for example), and this isn't necessarily a deal breaker. You will want to factor in the cost of repairs when deciding if this is the right car for you, however.
Go on a Test Drive
A long test drive is the best way to determine if you will enjoy driving the car and feel safe doing so. Ideally, you will be able to go for a test drive alone without the dealership employee or individual seller in the car. Having someone with you in the car (especially someone with a vested interest in you making the purchase) can leave you feeling too pressured to make an accurate assessment of how the car drives.
Ask for the Maintenance Records
Finally, you will need access to the car's maintenance records. An older car that has been well taken care of, routinely maintained, and never had major problems can be more reliable than a newer car that has been mistreated by its owner.
By following these tips and spending a bit more time and effort on your purchase, you can help protect yourself from buying a lemon and make the most of your used car purchase.