What to Look For When Buying a Used Car

There is just something about buying a new or "new to you" car that brings a smile to your face and makes you feel good! Do you know what you should look for before buying a used car? Prior to heading out, you might want to put together a few items to help with your task: A small notebook and pen to take notes…jot down the year, make, and model of the automobile, the mileage, and the asking price. This information can be used to verify the car's value.

Kelly Blue Book's website is a great resource. You also need paper towels to check the oil and a CD to check out the car's stereo. A flashlight can help look under the car for leaks; a penny will help you see how worn the tires are.

    The Exterior – Walk around the car to look for scratches, dents, and rust. Make sure the color of all the body panels matches.

    Check for cracks in the windshield and make sure the windshield wipers and blades are in good working order.

    Look at the headlights and taillights to make sure they're intact and functioning properly and make sure all the doors and trunk close securely.

    Tires – Kick them if you must, but also make sure all four are of the same make and are a brand you trust. A blowout on the road could cost you your cheap car insurance rates.

    Take your penny and place it with Lincoln's head going down into several of the grooves across the tire. If you can always see the top of Abe's head, the treads are worn and the tires need to be replaced. If part of his head is always covered, the tires will likely be good for a while.

    Check whether there is a spare tire and look at its state of wear. This is a good time to make sure there is a jack and lug wrench and confirm that they work properly.

    Look Under the Hood – Does the hood latch hold securely? Does everything look clean?

    Ask whether the air and oil filters have been recently changed.

    Find the dipstick for the oil and take it out. Wipe the stick with the paper towels, place it back into the slot, and pull it out again. Is the level correct? Does the oil look thick and dark? If so, the car is in need of an oil change and you should consider how well the car has been taken care of.

    Test Drive – Take the car out for a spin. Be sure to travel down city streets as well as the highway.

    Test how the car accelerates and try the cruise control.

    Slam on the brakes to test their responsiveness.

If you are thinking about purchasing a used car, contact your insurance company to get an idea of how cheap car insurance would be on this model. Have your mechanic look it over to give you added peace of mind. Buying a used car can be an easy process if you are prepared. Before shopping, check with your car insurance agent to get an idea on models to avoid or ones that have a solid reputation.

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