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7 Warning Signs to Look For When Buying a Used Car

Today, the average car is on the road for over 11 years. More and more car owners are keeping their vehicle to 200,000 miles … sometimes even longer. But to do that, you need to avoid the most common car buying mistakes. Here’s how to shop smart.

Take it for a test drive.

Never buy a car without driving it first. Pay attention to how it handles:

• Does it sway or pull to the side?

• Are the brakes too soft?

• Does it bog down when it accelerates?

• Is this shifting harsh?

Listen for squeals, clunks or any funny noises. And be sure to test the lights, windows, air conditioning, and anything else with a switch.

Ask lots of questions.

Used car dealers are notoriously tight-lipped when it comes to a car’s history (though they might honestly know nothing about it). But private sellers can sometimes be prompted to share useful details about a car, if you ask enough questions.

Here are the three big questions you can use to get to the truth:

1) What made you decide to sell this car?

2) Can you tell me a little about the car’s history?

3) What kind of work does this car need?

That last question, especially, should start the seller talking. If you get nothing but vague answers, or something doesn’t add up, shop somewhere else.

Get a mechanic to inspect any used car before you buy it.

A mechanic can’t tell you everything about a vehicle — some problems simply can’t be seen without taking the car apart. But a good mechanic can spot warning signs before they turn into expensive repairs.

You can expect to spend about $100 to get a good inspection. But it’s money well spent … because it could save you thousands of dollars further down the road.

Listen to that little voice inside you.

Does a particular deal sound too good to be true? Is there something about this car’s history that just doesn’t add up? You might have noticed something wrong that you can’t quite put into words, but it’s giving you a bad feeling. If that happens when you’re looking at a used car, you might be better off walking away.

Even if you’re wrong, it’s better to miss out on a decent used car deal than it is to accidentally buy a clunker. You’ll save yourself not only money, but heartache too.

Get your financing pre-approved before you start shopping.

When you find the car of your dreams, the last thing you want to do is stress about the financing. Save yourself time and trouble — not to mention cash — by arranging for a car loan before you shop for a used car.

When you already have a car loan worked out, it makes shopping for your next car that much more fun. Ready to get started?

Click here to find the best used car loan.