1. Do your homework. Read Consumer Reports to find out how well a particular make and model year has performed over time. Look online at the cars you’re interested in, and find out the price range for the model year and mileage you’re looking at. Don’t look at the most expensively priced nor the cheapest, since that means something is probably wrong with them. Find the cars in the median ranges to get an idea of true market value of a specific vehicle.
2. Take it to a mechanic. Whether you’re buying from a private party or a dealer, it’s a good investment to take a car to a mechanic before purchase. It may cost around $100, but it’s well worth it to know there’s nothing wrong with the car you’re buying and that it’s worth the price you’re paying.
3. Get behind the wheel. Never take someone’s word on how well a car runs. Turn off the car radio and listen. Is the car making strange noises? Also make sure to accelerate and brake in order to test those systems.
4. Inspect the Vehicle. Look for mismatched paint. This is a telltale sign that the vehicle has been in an accident. Look at uneven wear on the tires. If the tires aren’t worn in a uniform pattern, this can indicate a suspension problem. You may also want to read a vehicle history report, which can be obtained on websites like CARFAX.
5. Avoid Head Games. Remember that you always have the power to walk away. Until you sign the closing documents, you have no obligation to buy. If you don’t feel like you’ve found the right fit, don’t allow a pushy salesperson to pressure you into a car you’re not sure about.