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Used Car Buying Tips

Buying a car from an individual or from a local car dealer is one tedious task if the objective is to purchase a second car that is still in good running condition.  Whether new or used, when buying a car, it should be treated with the same importance and value.

There are things to take into consideration before buying the car and these are:

1. Educate yourself as a consumer
2. Prepare a list of your needs. Prioritize between the necessities and the wants.
3. Determine the budget and the kind of car that would best fit.
4. Make a selection by models and types. Narrowing them will be helpful.
5. Research both online and offline by dealers.
6. Know the value of the second hand car in the market.
7. Research the Vehicle Identification Numbers and history.
8. Take a mechanic when checking the car whether buying from a friend or a dealer.
9. Never shy away from asking questions.
10. If there's a gut feeling about it not being good, don't be afraid to walk away.

Bringing a mechanic along is always a good strategy.  Make sure your mechanic inspects the total car, from the history down to its last screw.  It should be parked on a level spot. You should make certain that it was driven for about an hour before the inspection.  Always make it on a well lit surrounding and in broad daylight.

How to inspect it thoroughly:

Checking the exterior.

Walk around to see if there is damage to the body.  The corners of the car should be shaken and bounced up and down to see if the shock absorbers are still in good condition.  Make sure that the wheel bearings do not make any sound when trying to pull the front tires by tugging them.  Open the doors lift the hood and the trunk to see if all the rubber seals are still in place.  This will also tell if there's anything loose around the hinges.  Check for signs of repaint. There will be difference in the color because shops can never duplicate the original paint of the car.  Ask someone to turn on all the lights outside of the car and look if all are working.  Cars with only 30,000 miles of travel must still have its original tires.  Beware if you find a car with only a few miles of travel but has new tires.  When the test drive is done, check the discs of the brakes, this should still be clean and smooth.  Check the windshield for cracks.

Checking the Interior.

Though it sounds odd, smell the inside of the car.  Sniff under mats and the carpet.  If it smells like mildew then it's a sign that there is a leak somewhere or that the car may have undergone flood damage.  Switch on the air-conditioning to make sure that it really turns the whole inside of the car cold.  Next, try the heater.  Try out all lights inside as well and never forget to blow the horn.  Also try all the seat adjustments.  The upholstery should still be in good shape too.  There is a lot more to check and here is where the mechanic can help the buyer.

Looking inside the trunk.  Once more, smell the insides and check for any signs of leaks.  Make sure that some basic car tools are still present for the new user.

Checking under the hood.  Feel the wiring for any cracks or brittleness.  Squeeze the hoses and the fan belt for any cuts and possible electrical tape patches.  Do not take off the cap of the radiator until its cool enough.  The greenish color indicates a good condition where the coolant is.  Beware of stains and dirty-whitish color on the radiator.  Again, let the rest be checked by the mechanic like the batteries.

Checking under the car.  Lie down if you must and use an emergency light to see the engine underneath.  Feel any signs of residue.  Check the pipes and examine any possibility of heavy rusting.

Do the Test Drive.  The owner or dealer should not stop a buyer from going over about twenty minutes of test drive.  This is a special time to thoroughly look for any problems with the air-conditioning, heater, steering wheel, brakes, transmission, and most importantly, the comfort.  Feel everything; itís okay to try it on a hump or a slight bumpy road to really experience the performance.  Listen carefully to check any rattles.  Have a pen and paper, flashlight, gloves, magnet, towel, blanket and even CD or tape when checking a car out.

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