Used Car Buying Guide
Auto Buying Guide
Which car/truck/SUV should I buy?
Deciding which vehicle you should buy will depend on your needs, your budget and personal preferences.
- Kerem's Kars - Reliability on a budget
- carcomplaints.com - most complained about problems, and vehicles with the most complaints
- carcomplaints.com - Toyota and Honda complaints
- Toyota & Honda - Common problems
- Info about salvage titles.
- Checking for recalls
3rd party links
(We do not endorse these, nor guarantee their accuracy. Buyer beware)
- Best used cars for 2021 (iseecars.com)
- Cars Owners Keep the Longest (iseecars.com)
- Longest-Lasting Cars to Reach 200,000 Miles and Beyond (iseecars.com)
- What to Look for When Buying a Used Car (iseecars.com)
- What is a Salvage Title? (iseecars.com)
- What is a Rebuilt Title? (iseecars.com)
- How to buy a used car. (iseecars.com)
- Federal fuel economy estimates
- Search feedback from other owners (carcomplaints.com)
- repairpal.com- Car research
- Recall News
- Car problem news and articles
- Vehicle crash test ratings
Tip: Educate yourself on the range of value of a car. Read classified listings in your area
How do I know this car is OK to buy?
- Check for Recalls
Make sure recalls have been addressed. Do not buy the vehicle until the dealer fixes these.
- Check for signs of collisions
- Test drive
- Always do a thorough test drive and don't be shy with it. Push the engine hard on the highway or up a steep hill. This will reveal much about the condition. Listen/feel for any abnormal sounds or vibrations. Look underneath at the chassis and under the hood to see if it's been properly looked after. If there's broken parts hanging down, or it's a greasy mess it was probably neglected.
- Ask for all documentation regarding service history. Be suspicious if there is none, or there are long gaps.
- Always let a trusted mechanic look at a vehicle before you buy it. Call the shop and tell them you need a pre-purchase inspection. They will know exactly what to do.
- Make sure the owner's manual is still with the car. If at a dealer, insist they provide one. If it's a newer vehicle, get the warranty booklet too.
- Do not depend on Carfax or similar reports. They only show data that was reported to them
- Make sure the emergency kit is intact. Spare tire and scissor jack in good shape. Make sure you have tools for security wheel nuts.
- 10 Ways to Avoid Used Car Surprises
I bought a car. Now what?
- Address any concerns that were brought up in the pre-purchase inspection.
- The owner's manual describes regular maintenance your vehicle requires in order to keep running properly. For example, making sure you have enough air pressure in the tires for even wear. Topping up fluids, etc.
- Check the manual's maintenance schedule section to find out how often you should rotate wheels, replace the air filter, the engine oil+filter, serpentine belt, and other things.
- Your car has other parts that wear out over time, but there is no schedule for them. They must be replaced as needed. Pay attention to how the car rides and runs. Note any abnormal vibrations, sounds, behaviors, or lights on the instrument panel. It's a good idea to let a mechanic inspect your vehicle every time the oil is changed, so he can spot problems before they become more expensive to fix.
- If you plan to maintain the vehicle yourself, purchase a vehicle specific repair manual (Chilton, Haynes etc.) They provide useful information about your car model, and step by step instructions with pictures about the most common repairs and replacements. The wiring schematics are incredibly useful too. Your local public library may also have print and digital resources. Or you can subscribe to a digital service such as AllData. It is well worth the money if you do all your own vehicle service.
- You might consider purchasing a diagnostic scan tool. This will provide more information about faults if you get trouble lights on your instrument panel.
Where should I go to buy a vehicle?
Best Places to Buy a Used Car (iseecars.com)
Online dealers may seem convenient, but they will cost you more money.
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4 things you MUST check before you buy any used car! CAR WIZARD shows how not to be scammed!