Buying a used car is more stressful than buying a brand new vehicle fresh off the lot. Often a certain level of deceit goes in hand with someone selling a used car. After all, if it’s so great, why are they selling it? Will this car be a lemon, or is it going to provide you with several years of great service? There are so many questions that may go through your mind when you peruse used cars on the lot.

Buying a Used Car and Avoiding Lemons

Here are six questions to ask before buying a used car.

1. Has the car been serviced and is it backed up with a dealer warranty? Many used cars may still fall under the manufacturer’s warranty, so you’ll need to find out if this is the case. Otherwise, find out if the used car dealer will back up the car with a one or two year warranty against any defects. Dealer warranties often mean that the vehicle has undergone a service inspection, and necessary repairs have been done. You’ll feel far more confident in purchasing a used car backed up by the dealer!

2. Has the vehicle ever been in a car accident? Most state laws require that if a used car has been in an accident, this information must be disclosed to a new car buyer. You’ve probably seen thos carfax commercials… double check your state regulations to see if this is a requirement in your state before heading to a dealership. If the car has been in an accident, what was the severity? Was it dings, or a damaged bumper, or worse? You may wish to avoid cars that have been in bad crashes, I probably would.

3. Has the car been recalled by the manufacturer, and if so, have the necessary repairs been done? Has your potential vehicle ever been part of a safety recall? If so, have the necessary repairs or replacement parts been done? Ask to see records.

4. How is the car equipped?  What are the vehicles key features? Ask about items that are important to you, such as stereo, air conditioning, power, etc. Does it have what you need to be comfortable and enjoy your vehicle for the long term?

5. Are there service records? There should be service records from previous owners. You’ll want to have an idea of when you’re going to need to buy new tires, replace the brakes, and give it a service update. It may be a red flag if there aren’t any service records available – I’d personally look at a different vehicle if there were no service records on a particular vehicle.

6. What is the mileage? What is the mileage on the vehicle? Has the speedometer been reset to zero? How was the car used before? Was it driven in the city, or on the freeway? Freeway mileage may have been more gentle on the car than a lot of busy stop and go rush hour traffic. If you plan on keeping the car for a while or putting a lot of miles on it yourself, this is important to know!

Shopping at a reputable used dealership, rather than a private seller is one of the best ways you’re going to arm yourself against buying a lemon!

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