While buying a used car can save you thousands, it's also easy to get ripped off if you don't know what to look out for. Here are a few tips to help you determine whether you're getting a great deal or a lemon in disguise.
One of the first things to do is check under the vehicle. If you see oil drips or colored fluid on the pavement, you might have some costly repairs ahead of you. While you're down there, check the tread wear on all the tires and make sure that the spare, jack and lug wrench are in good shape as well.
The suspension is also really important to inspect. To do this, go to each corner and bounce the car up and down. If the shock absorbers are in good shape, they should only rebound once. Too much movement likely means that the shocks and struts need to be changed. These can cost a lot of money to replace, so be sure to test all sides.
Next, move to the front of the car and take a look under the hood. Inspect all fluid levels and test the various hoses on the radiator and air conditioner by giving them a squeeze. The rubber should be firm yet pliable, not hard, cracked or mushy.
Lastly, inspect the interior of the car. This is where you'll be spending most of your time, so be sure to try out every button, switch and lever so you don't get any expensive surprises down the line.
Once you're done, turn the ignition without starting the engine to check all the warning lights in the dashboard. While you're in there, switch on the headlights and blinkers to make sure they work, too.
Now that you've covered all your bases, you're ready for the most important part: the test drive.
Follow these tips before you buy and you'll help ensure a smooth ride.
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