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Buying a used car is a great way to go if you want to save money. Whether you’re looking at a used vehicle at a dealership or from an individual seller, you’ll want to get it checked out by your trusted local mechanic first. Since you might not have your mechanic with you or be able to take the car to them, you should know some basics about what to look for when buying a used car.


If you’re going to a dealership they’ll likely have their prices listed on their website. Either way, you can do your homework by looking up the Kelley Blue Book values for the used vehicles you are interested in. At a dealership, you should also look at the window sticker for information including whether the car is being sold “as is” or with a full or partial warranty and other valuable info.

Body Condition

Inspect the roof and each body panel for dents, rust, or scratches. Look at the lines of the doors and fenders to make sure there are no misaligned panels or big gaps which could indicate repair issues. Also be sure the color and finish of the paint are the same on each panel. While minor cosmetic issues aren’t necessarily a cause for concern, rust is more serious. You should also open and close each door, the trunk, and the hood.


Inspect the vehicle by walking around it and making sure it’s level. Gently bounce each corner up and down to ensure the shock absorbers are in working order (they should rebound only once and no go up and down multiple times).


Bring a friend who can confirm that each light is working including headlights, high beams, break lights, and turn signals. Be sure the lenses and reflectors are not cracked or fogged with moisture.


A sign that the odometer may have been rolled back is when a vehicle without very many miles on it has new tires. Check that each tire matches the others and that the tread levels are about even.


Take plenty of time when test driving the vehicle. In addition to paying attention to how it runs, feels, and sounds, you’ll also want to check that everything inside is working correctly. Test out the seats, seat belts, pedals, knobs, controls, sound system, air conditioning, heating, and anything else that the vehicle features.

If any of these seem off or suspicious, you should move on to another vehicle, or at the very least be certain to have it checked out by a trusted mechanic such as those at Fast Eddie’s.

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