by Geoff McKay

Many people consider buying used cars as too much of a hassle. They feel as though their money would be better spent on a new car, one for which they can be certain of the history. However, what these people fail to realize is that, even with a new car, there is the possibility of deception or pre-existing problems. The trick, therefore, is not to buy a new car in order to escape difficulty, but to do the proper amount of research to ensure a wonderful purchase experience, whichever you decide to buy.

One thing to remember when buying used cars is never trust what the seller says. If you are buying from a dealer, demand a vehicle history report. Do NOT always trust the car title. There are times during transport that the details of a car title are modified. If you only go by the information on the title, you run the risk of receiving a car that was once listed as “totalled” in another location. This was the case of many cars that were sold post-Hurricane Katrina. Dozens of flooded cars drifted their way north and were resold with clean slates. All while corrosion was eating away on the inside. This is not to say that all used car dealers are dishonest, however, their main goal is to make money and they may not be as thorough as you want them to be concerning a “new” vehicle.

Before you spend any money on used cars, become familiar with the “lemon” laws in your state. Basically, lemon laws were specially designed for the reselling of cars. They state that, if a purchased car fails to pass an inspection within a certain amount of time, you are entitled to a refund. These laws have been put in place to protect the consumer, but you cannot use them if you are unaware of their benefits and/or purchase a vehicle “as-is”.

Another thing to keep in mind when buying used cars is that the person selling the car may not be the owner. Whenever you buy from an individual, check the registration information of the vehicle before you hand over any money. The last thing you want is to find out that your money went nowhere or that the car has a host of liens against it. The problem can easily be avoided by going to a reputable dealership.

Whether you purchase a new car or a used car, always remember “you get what you pay for”. Whilst you should try to find a good deal, don’t jump at the cheapest one. Always check the mileage and age of the car against that car’s make and model. If it’s too old or has travelled too far, leave it. It makes more sense to try to negotiate a reliable car than to purchase one that’s dirt cheap that will likely fail when you need it most. The internet is a great place to search for such information with a wealth of do’s and don’ts.

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