Tips on Buying a Used Car

So you’re in the market for a car, but you’ve decided you can’t afford a new one. Cars last longer these days, and with rustproofing often standard, purchasing used can save you a lot of money. However, if you’re not a mechanic or, at least knowledgeable about cars, you may end up wasting your money on a lemon. Here’s some tips to get you started.

  • Research. Find out repair ratings for the type of car you’re interested in purchasing. Check online at sites such as J.D. Power ( or Consumer Reports ( You have to be a member to access the ratings at Consumer Reports, but you can find their magazine at your local library.
  • Shop during the day when you can get a clear look at the vehicle.
  • Do a thorough inspection inside, outside, under the hood, under the car for any signs of damage or repaired damage.
  • Check the paint to see that it all matches.
  • Check for any signs of water damage. Is there any mold or corrosion?
  • Take it for a drive, preferably with someone who has some expertise if you don’t. Listen for strange noises. Look in your rear view mirror to see if the tailpipe is discharging any black smoke. Test the brakes.
  • If you have a favorite mechanic, consider paying them to check the car out for you.