Too Good to be True

That story about the friend of a friend who bought the total lemon of a car from the sweet grandmother is not always an urban legend! Many people are tricked into buying cars that should be junked and are worth nothing, but look fine on the outside, under the hood and started fine on the test-drive. Buying a used car is often the best and most financially efficient choice for many consumers, however many used car buyers don't look close enough at the pre-owned vehicle or they look at the wrong things. To stop that list of used car tragedies from including your story, read the following tips on checking out a used car properly. And remember, dealers are trustworthy, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't check out all aspects of a pre-owned vehicle on a dealer lot.

  1. See the car in daylight or a well light Not only will you be able to see the body better, you can examine all the other parts without hassling with a flashlight.
  2. Start it first thing in the morning, after it has been sitting for a while. You can find out alot about a car trying to start it when it is cold.
  3. Inspect the car to your satisfaction, and don't let a dealer or current owner tell you what to check and what is okay.
  4. Test Drive it! If you live in Seattle where rains a lot do the test on a rainy day to see how the vehicle will handle. On the drive, listen for sounds like hissing or clanging. Feel for a smooth acceleration and check that the vehicle idles well. Make a sudden stop as well as regular stops to check the brakes or see if it pulls to one side or the other.
  5. Look inside: Check out the upholstery, dashboard, seats and windows. In general be checking for damages and stains look at the bolts to see if they have been changed or look new that mean someone has done some work on it.
  6. And out: Look for evidence of an accident (unless you were told that it had happened, which is a rare occasion!) such as unevenness in the seams of the trunk and hood, insides of the trunk pull back the trunk carpet see if any buckles for any accidents and under the hood, and in the wheel wells. Also check for fluid leaks underneath the car.
  7. Try out all of the dash controls like interior and exterior lights, turn signals and windshield wipers. Check to see that seats and windows move and are in proper condition (or as promised).
  8. Check heat, air conditioning, audio system, alarm and other accessories that you would be paying for.
  9. Be sure that there is a gas cap, owner's manual, service records and clear title to the car. Vehicle title fraud is a growing problem, don't be a victim. They may have a title on the car but you need to check with the department of licensing to make sure that the title is not a salvage title or there is a child support lien on it.
  10. If you are clueless, bring along a friend or relative who is car savvy to help you.

Whether you have found the car at a dealership, used-car lot or private residence, don't skimp on the tests and examinations. Take your time and pay attention to the details.

THIS CONTENT IS FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY. THIS IS IN NO WAY GIVING ANY LEGAL ADVICE OR REPRESENTATION. THE INFORMATION CONTAINED HEREIN WAS COMPILED FROM VARIOUS ARTICLES. FOR ANY LEGAL ADVICE OR REPRESENTATION SEEK YOUR OWN LEGAL COUNSEL.