Friday, February 15, 2013

Tips to Avoid Buying a "Lemon" When Shopping for a Used Car

If you’re trying to save money, then purchasing a secondhand car could seem like an inexpensive option. However, you want to be certain of not buying a "lemon" when you obtain a used car. There are certain tips that will help you to avoid buying a vehicle that will bring you nothing but problems and costly repair bills. Remember that "lemon laws" do not apply to used vehicles, so you must do what you can to protect yourself.

1. Test drive.

Always test drive your vehicle, and leave the radio off so that you will be able to hear any unusual noises that music might mask.

2. Get a warranty.

Get at least a 30-day warranty. If you cannot obtain a warranty, the next best thing is to take the vehicle to a mechanic right away for a thorough inspection, preferably before you buy the vehicle. If the seller has nothing to hide, this should not be a problem. Also, if the seller puts up any resistance to this request, it may be a warning to you that the car could have some problems.

3. Shop around.

Do not check out just one or two vehicles. You will want to inspect a number of cars before you make your final decision. You can also check out vehicles online to find good prices and then see if you can negotiate with dealers in your local area for the best price you can obtain.

4. Be especially careful if you are a woman.

It is unfortunate but often true that used car dealers think women do not know much about cars and will buy indiscriminately. If you are a lady looking for a used car and really do not know as much about autos as you would like, take a companion with you who has better knowledge and knows what to check out. You could also learn some basics about autos yourself so that you will have an idea what to look for when inspecting a car.

5. Obtain a title.

Do not buy a vehicle if the seller cannot produce a title. This is a red flag that should not be ignored. If the seller does not have a title to give you, he or she may very well not own the car. You will have no idea if you are purchasing a vehicle with a lien on it or even a car that is stolen property. If you cannot obtain a title, find another used vehicle to purchase.

6. Check the car out with or

If you can, write down the VIN number and check out the car on a website such as or before you hand over any money. In this way, you can learn the history of the car, how many previous owners there have been, and if the auto was involved in any accidents.

Buying a used car can be a good option if you need a vehicle and do not have the money for a new auto. Be wise and follow the tips above so that you do not get stuck with a "lemon."

Melanie Lewis writes for a website that has tips on financing a used car, including advice on used car interest rates and how to get the best deal for your budget.

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