It definitely makes a lot of sense these days to purchase a used car. For many reasons. First of all, the manufacturers are making cars of better quality that last longer. And those better new cars invariably make better used cars. Another important factor to realize is that the majority of used cars that you will find in a dealer’s showroom don’t come from trade-ins.

Dealers buy most of their used cars from the professional auctions (no, you can’t go to them!) and they only buy low-mileage winners. Sure, you could be the customer who trades in a creampuff, but most franchise dealers don’t want to wait for you; they’d rather buy a sure thing at auction. These days they do a vehicle history check right at the auction, so they don’t have to be concerned with getting a lemon. So that Toyota Camry you have your eye on was probably an off-fleet or off-lease low mileage car that had a good maintenance record and will give you several years of quality service.

When you buy your used car, find out about the remaining time on the original car warranty, which covers you in case you encounter problems down the road. In most cases it makes sense to get an extended warranty to cover you beyond the original. You can often save a lot of money getting an extended warranty from an outside source rather than the dealer. Compare the dealer’s prices with a reputable warranty company such as Warranty Direct.

Also check out the lemon laws that apply in your state, so you will know what rights you have in case the car isn’t what you expected. If you think you might have a lemon or just want to find out about lemon laws in your state, check outLemon Law America. You can check to see if your vehicle is a lemon with a free lemon check.

Learn more about financing and insurance here.

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 checkto 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!