Tips On Buying A Second Hand Car

Are you buying a used car for the first time? Take these tips on buying a second hand car from the BuyingAdvice team.

Dealership Vs. Private Seller
Each is a different buying experience, and they both have their pros and cons. Dealerships are usually the safer choice, since they typically offer a warranty or some type of guarantee on what they sell. But you might find that a private seller offers a better price, or is easier to negotiate with, especially if you know the individual.

Know Your Rights
When it comes to private sales, you’re typically on your own if you buy a dud, unless the car still has a manufacturer’s warranty. However, dealerships have to follow Federal Trade Commission rules. One of these is the Used Car Rule, which states that every used car a dealer sells must have a Buyer’s Guide attached to the window with the following information:

  • If the car has a warranty or is being sold “as is.”

  • How much of the repair costs the warranty covers.

  • The major systems on the car to look out for.

  • Reminders to get all promises in writing, keep the Buyer’s Guide for reference, and to have the car inspected by an independent mechanic.

You should also understand what “as is” actually means. State laws grant what is known as an “implied warranty.” That means that there is an unspoken agreement that the car will perform as specified. When a car is sold “as is,” it means they’re excempt from recourse if you buy a junker. Your state might also have a lemon law that might apply to your purchase.

Learn The Car’s Story
Before you get too interested in a car, there are a number of questions you should ask:

  • Who has owned this car?

  • Why did the previous owner get rid of it?

  • What was it being used for?

  • Has it been in any accidents?

  • What problems has it had in the past?

  • When is the last time it got a tune-up?

It’s also generally a good idea to get a vehicle history report, but you should understand that they are not infallible. A good mechanic and/or body shop can tell you if there’s evidence of an accident.

Know What You’re Buying
It should go without saying that you should already know about the particular model you’re interested in, including recalls, reviews, etc. Furthermore, give it a thorough inspection yourself. Check for things that seem mismatched, like doors not being flush with the body, or odd patches of paint. And don’t neglect your nose. Mildewy smells are a sure sign of water damage.

If you’re satisfied, take the car for at least one thorough test drive. Try hills, highways, tight curves, and traffic to see how it performs.

Last but not least, have an independent mechanic and maybe even a body shop inspect the car before you buy.

Closing The Deal
Make sure to get all promises in writing, including warranty information. If you purchased from a dealer, keep your Buyer’s Guide for future reference. And enjoy your new(ish) car!


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