The days of “What you see is what you get” are gone. Modern cars are laden with computers, sensors, and other equipment that make diagnosing problems difficult or impossible without the aid of a mechanic who has access to an expensive computer code reader.
That said, some used cars do not require any special knowledge to make a good choice, either because of their simplicity or the widespread availability of repair parts. As with any car purchase, it’s best to have an independent mechanic examine the vehicle before you buy it. However, if you are not comfortable having even this small amount of involvement in your new purchase, here are some guidelines to help you choose the right used car.
Choose the Car for Your Needs
Some cars are better suited to specific tasks than others, so you need to choose a car that fits your lifestyle. If you have children, an SUV or minivan would be a wiser choice than a sports car because they are more practical in many ways. A convertible may be fun, but it’s no good if there is not enough room in the back to put your kids when you go on family outings.
If you’re the outdoorsy type, a car with 4WD may feel like second nature. However, if you rarely drive off-road or through extreme weather conditions (snow and ice in winter or mountainous regions, for example), you can save money by buying a car that does not have this feature.
Check the Safety Ratings
While it would be nice to think that all cars are safe regardless of their age, some models performed poorly in crash tests when they were new. This is due to faulty design or poor, outdated safety features. Fortunately, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) rates used cars on a scale of 1 to 5 stars. Consider buying a car that has 4 or 5 stars for an added margin of safety.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) also provides information about new and used cars that have performed poorly in crash tests and may risk injury to their drivers and passengers.
In conclusion, if you want to feel confident in your purchase, do some research on the car’s history. Checking a vehicle identification number or VIN is necessary when looking at used cars for sale. A CARFAX report can also help immensely by providing valuable information about accidents and other incidents with the specific automobile model you’re interested in purchasing. When shopping for a pre-owned car, be sure to ask questions like whether it has been serviced regularly and what its powertrain warranty looks like before making any final decisions.