It can be tempting to trust anyone who is willing to give you a good deal when you have never purchased a used car. Unfortunately, there are opportunists who are willing to take advantage of first-time used car buyers. By considering three key pieces of information, you can minimize your chances of buying a lemon.
Bad Or Missing VIN Numbers
Many inexperienced car buyers overlook finding the vehicle identification number (VIN) on a car they want to purchase. You should have no problem finding the VIN on a used car and any reputable seller should not feel apprehensive about helping you find this information. Before you purchase any car, the seller should also feel comfortable with you doing your own research on the VIN to find out additional information and if it matches up with the car you are viewing. The car should come back as the same make, model, and color as the car you viewed. Cars that are reported stolen are often altered and given different VINs to avoid detection.
Outrageously Good Or Bad Prices
You should never purchase a car without having a general idea of what the "going rate" is for the vehicle. Since several variables can affect the resell price of a car, it is impossible to know the exact price that is appropriate, but you should have a good idea. Knowing a fair value for the car can stop you from spending unnecessary money, but an unbelievably low price can be a sign the car is little more than scrap metal. A universal reference is the Kelley Blue Book; however, checking used car lots and independent sellers in your area may help you find similar vehicles and their asking price. The quality of the vehicle is important, but the asking price may fluctuate based on geographic area and what is affordable in your local economy.
A used car with fresh paint, new tires, and new mechanical parts may be used as a tactic to cover up problems or to make a used car seem more than it is worth. If a seller tells you various parts of the car have been replaced, it is difficult to prove these are new parts without taking the car to a mechanic. Knowing the vehicle's history (click here for a free car history report) can give you an idea if the seller simply wanted to invest extra time and money into the vehicle to gain a better price or they are covering up problems with the vehicle. Unfortunately, serious accidents and flood damage may be temporarily camouflaged with a little body work and a fresh coat of paint. If a vehicle was flooded or the airbag deployed during an accident, it should not be patched up and resold.
Buying your first used car can be a nerve-wracking experience. Doing adequate research on the cars you want can help you avoid a costly mistake and make a good investment.