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Used Car Tips to Follow

• Keep a record of every repair visit, starting with the first one.

• Make sure that you get a copy of all warranty repair orders.

• Describe the same problem the same way each time you bring the vehicle in to be repaired.

•Check your repair invoice to be certain that date in, date out, and odometer reading are accurate.

• Remember that the total number of days out of service is important to your claim.


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Car History Questions to ask car seller

1. Why are you selling the car?
If the seller answers, “Because it’s junk!” the interview may be over . But the seller may say something else, or say it so nervously, that you can tell he or she thinks it’s a piece of junk and are trying not to say so, or doesn’t have the good sense to make up an alternate reason head of time. If the person doesn’t have the sense to do that, he or she probably doesn’t have the sense to keep oil in the engine or to roll the windows up when it rained.

2. How many miles are on the odometer?
A used car’s mileage helps to determine its value, which will be important during negotiations. You can research values in our Model Reports guide before meeting the seller. Also, if you eventually see the vehicle, and the odometer reads significantly higher (or appears to be stuck on a number when you drive it), it’s time to leave.

3. What’s the condition of the car?
Note that the wording of the question is neutral. See how the seller responds. You know what kind of problems you can live with and how they affect your offer. Be sure to follow up by specifically asking about both its structural and mechanical condition, in case the seller didn’t address either one. Again, if you see the vehicle and find that the seller could have been more honest about its condition, take it as a sign.

4. Does it have any special features?
How a vehicle is equipped also affects its value. Are the seats leather? Is there a CD player? Is it equipped with air conditioning?

5. Are you the original owner?
In general, single-owner vehicles are preferred. This also helps with the next few questions. If the seller is not the original owner, he or she might not have the answers. The more you know about the vehicle, the higher your comfort level will be.

6. Was the vehicle ever involved in an accident?
A crucial question. Vehicles that have been in collisions are prone to more problems and are worth less. We give some tips on how to tell if a vehicle has been in an accident in Test-Driving a Car. If the seller says “no” to this question on the phone and then you determine that it has been damaged and repaired, you’ll know that the seller is untrustworthy or, at best, not as familiar with the vehicle as you would hope. Whatever their reason for getting it wrong, it may be time to walk away.

7. Do you have service records for it?
An owner who was meticulous enough to keep service records was probably meticulous enough to take good care of the vehicle — and fortunately, you can find out.

8. How much are you asking for it?
Again, the wording is important. It suggests that the price the seller quotes should be negotiable.

9. Get a Free Car History Report Check

10. Take along the Used Car Shopper’s Checklist. This handy list of questions includes things you want to know but might forget to ask.

Used Car Shopper’s Checklist

  1. Decide which make and model is sought
  2. Research asking price with Black Book
  3. Find out how much it would cost to finance vehicle
  4. Find out how much it would cost to insure vehicle
  5. Research prospective vehicle history using online and printed resources
  6. Interview prospective sellers before meeting them in person
  7. Set daytime appointment
  8. Before test drive, check undercarriage, engine and body for rust or damage
  9. Check interior for cleanliness, comfort and size
  10. Inspect tires for wear
  11. Check oil for proper level and color
  12. Check coolant and radiator for leaks or corrosion
  13. Drive on highway to gauge acceleration and handling
  14. Test brakes
  15. Test steering and alignment
  16. Practice parking for maneuverability and sight lines
  17. After test drive, inspect engine for leaks, odors or smoke
  18. Request and review service records, receipts and title
  19. Have specialist or mechanic inspect your vehicle selection
  20. Get a used car history search

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