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November 6, 2013

What to Look for in a Used Vehicle

Regardless of your tastes, buying a used car can be a benefit to the buyer. As a used car buyer, do not focus on one make or model; rather focus on a class of car you want, like sports car, SUV, luxury sedans or whatever. On your tablet or smartphone, bookmark the websites of Edmonds.com or Kelly blue book and get a book price on any car you look at. With a smartphone or tablet, such information is readily accessible.

Check the Car Body
To check the car body, get a graphic diagram of a generic car’s body parts. It should show doors, hood, trunk, side panels and the rest. Car manuals occasionally publish such a diagram. Use the diagram to check each section of the car body for rust, dents or other problems. Label the diagram with the date, the car’s VIN number and license plate number, and then mark each part where you discovered a defect. This is about being thorough, and it will help you evaluate the car’s worth.

Check Under the Hood
Check under the hood for corrosion, wear and tear and cleanliness. Check for sooty deposits on the front wheel coverings. These checks can expose heavy driving and wear. In addition, ask the owner for any documentation of maintenance and repairs. This is a tall order, but some car owners keep track of everything that goes into their car. Such a schedule would be beneficial to the process. Check at Paaco for their free Carfax History report.

Life Expectancy
Refer back to the mileage figure you wrote on the diagram. Today’s cars can get as many as 300,000 miles before the owner sells them for scrap metal. Subtract the mileage on the car from 300,000 and that’s an estimate of the miles left on the car and that should factor into your offer.

Check the Trunk
When examining the back seat, passenger seat and trunk, a pristine appearance suggests the owner took care of the car. When you look in the trunk, check the jack mounted on a surface. Has it ever been removed? This can indicate that a vehicle has been well taken care of. Check for signs of trailering such as a trailer hitch or electrical trailer hookup. A trailer hitch might concern you, and you should ask questions.

70 Percent Solution
Be wary of the owner who wants to get the entire new car price back in a resale. New car buyers lose approximately 25 percent of the cars value when they drive it off the lot. Set a ceiling on the percentage of the new car price that you are willing to pay when buying the car used. You could set it as low as 70 percent and still make fair offers.

Shopping for used cars can be fun if you have the time and patience. You’ll get to know many makes and models and meet interesting people. On the other hand, you may discover that Paaco can do many of these things for you and get it done quicker too.

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