Knowing all of the terms you’ll hear during the car buying process can really help you make an informed decision. Take a look at the following terms and learn the basics.

Aftermarket- All products and services used in the repair and maintenance of vehicles.

Auction- A place where car dealers go to purchase their used vehicle inventories. The public does not have access to the major auto auctions.

Anti-lock brakes (ABS)- System that automatically controls wheel slip or prevents sustained wheel-locking on braking.

Auto Dealer- A retail outlet that carries one, or in some cases a number of a manufacturer’s product line and sells to general consumers and fleet operators. The outlet will also provide service and sell parts for the brand of vehicle that it carries.

Auto History Report- Find out the history of the vehicle you’re considering. Just enter your VIN and check for hidden problems such ascollision damageodometer rollback and other major problems.

Auto Research Report- A comprehensive report on any year, make and model, with everything you need to know before you purchase. Recalls, crash test results, trouble spots, owner complaints, reviews, ratings and much more. You can order your Auto Research Report here.

Crash Test- A test performed to determine a vehicle’s safety. Government agencies test each vehicle in a variety of categories and assign a rating based on the results.

Extended Warranty- A policy, which protects the automobile owner or lessee against mechanical failures and breakdowns. Thiswarranty will pay for your vehicle’s covered repairs after the manufacturer’s warranty has expired.

Fleet Vehicle- A vehicle that is bought or leased by a company as one of a fleet of vehicles; i.e. a company car.

Grey Market- The grey market describes the purchase by intermediaries of product which is not supplied to them by the “authorized” distribution channel of the supplier. While grey market products are frequently the same as would be available from conventional channels, the grey market assumes responsibility for service or repair where the manufacturer declines this support.

Inspection- Many states require emissions/safety inspections on a yearly or biennial basis to determine if a vehicle has maintained its roadworthiness.

Lease- An alternative to purchasing a vehicle outright, you can lease, or rent, the car with monthly payments.

Lemon- A vehicle with persistent mechanical problems. Definitely a vehicle to avoid. To check if your vehicle is a lemon, enter your VIN here.

Lemon Check- A quick way to see if the vehicle you’re considering is a lemon or not. You can get your lemon check here.

Lien- The ownership rights to piece of property.

Make- The manufacturer of a vehicle; i.e. Ford, Toyota, Honda, etc.

Market Value- An average of prices asked by dealers and private sellers.

Model- The name given to a particular vehicle made by a manufacturer; i.e. some Ford models are Taurus, Explorer and F-150.

Odometer Rollback- An indication of odometer fraud. Some sellers will roll the odometer back so they can sell their vehicle for more money. You can avoid this problem with an odometer check here.

Private Party- Term used to indicate a used car seller that is not a dealer; i.e. a friend or family member.

Repossession- When a vehicle owner fails to make payments on a loan, the financial institution will take possession of the vehicle.

Retail Value- The asking price you can expect to find at a used car dealership.

Recall- When maufacturer’s become aware of a continuing problem with a vehicle, and a significant number of vehicles are affected or the problem is serious, they issue recall notices. Car owners who are affected by these recalls can take their vehicles in to the dealer for repair at no charge.

Salvage- When a vehicle is damaged beyond repair, or determined a total loss by an insurance company, it is issued a salvage title. From that point it can be used for parts, and is no longer roadworthy.

Trade-In Value- The amount you can expect to get from a dealer for your trade-in.

VIN- The Vehicle Identification Number. Each vehicle has a unique VIN which acts as its fingerprint. The VIN can be used to check a vehicle’s history for hidden damages among other things.

Wholesale Value- The average price a dealer could expect to receive at auction.

Warranty-Also known as “bumper-to-bumper” coverage, a warranty protects you in case something on your vehicle breaks or stops working. It usually covers you for a certain number or years or miles. For a used vehicle, it often pays to get an extended warranty which will cover you for a longer period of time.

Three Used Car Must-Dos

1. Make sure you get an Auto History Report.

It certainly makes sense to pay a few dollars for such information before you plunk down thousands of dollars on a car. Based on the car’s unique VIN (Vehicle Identification Number), this report will tell you if the car was ever seriously damaged in a collision, if the odometer was rolled back or tampered with, any many other hidden problems that the seller might not tell you about. You can start with a free DMV record check to see how many records there are on your vehicle before you purchase the report.

2. Equally as important, spend $150 and have a certified, INDEPENDENT mechanic check the car over. He will put the car up on a lift and check for, among many other things, frame damage, the most tell-tale sign of major problems. If you buy a used car, even if it’s from your Uncle Harry, and don’t have a mechanic look at it before you buy it, you’re making a big mistake.

3. The last thing you should do before you buy is get an Auto Research Report. This report will tell you everything about the general make and model so you can decide if it is the right car for you and your family. It will tell you all of the recalls, crash test results, consumer complaints, trouble spots, reviews, ratings and more.

Good luck with your purchase!