Buying a good used car has never been easier. Interest rates are very low and many car dealers are eager to move stock. Great deals and great quality are out there for the potential used-vehicle seeker. However, before you actually make the purchase, find out the following information. This information will help reduce your chances of buying a lemon or hazard-in-disguise.
Check its history—
Make sure you get the vehicle identification number (VIN). Usually this is easily located on the sales ticket showing in one of the car’s windows. An online service, Carfax.com, for a fee, helps prospective car buyers find out the history of a vehicle by its VIN number.
This report informs you of any questionable events the vehicle may have gone through, such as having been flooded or salvaged. Particularly in the case of salvaged vehicles, many are hazardous to drive yet are still sold to unsuspecting buyers. Salvage cars can be rebuilt, but repairs may be skipped in order to turn a profit.
In addition, you may be asked to pay a good sum for a car you believe is in good shape and worth the price — when there are problems unbeknownst to you that haven’t been fixed. The vehicle’s actual worth would then be far below what you’re asked to pay.
Check for inherent model issues—
Repair issues inherent with specific model vehicles are made known through technical service bulletins (TSBs) and recall notices. Technical service bulletins precede, but do not always lead to, recall notices. TSBs are issued by manufacturers to repair shops and dealers who work on that particular model vehicle to alert them of what are becoming common model repair issues.
When there are an overwhelming number of model owners experiencing the same repair issue, the manufacturer may issue a recall notice. Some model vehicles had repairs made as soon as TSBs or recalls were issued and may be just fine at your time of purchase. However, your dealer should have record of these repairs or be able to conduct repair research to find out for you what has and hasn’t been done.
Regardless, it is advised that you find out all you can about the model’s TSBs and recalls on your own, beforehand. To find out about TSBs and recall notices, please visit the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration and the Center for Auto Safety websites.
Knowing the history of a used car and its inherent model issues before purchase helps you determine if a particular vehicle is a potential lemon that will likely need costly repairs. In the case of picking a vehicle that was once salvaged, knowing the full background information about the vehicle ahead of time could very well save your life.