By: Lisa D.–Acuity

Buying a used car? Used vehicles can be significantly less expensive to purchase than new vehicles, but their history could end up becoming costly. Here are some things to look for when shopping for a used vehicle to help you find any lurking issues and feel more confident in your purchasing decision

1. Take note of the VIN

The 17-digit vehicle identification number (VIN) is typically found by looking through the vehicle’s windshield near the driver-side dash. Use the VIN to look up:

  • Open recalls on the vehicle (nhtsa.gov)
  • The vehicle’s service and repair history (carfax.com)
  • If the vehicle has been stolen (nicb.org)
  • Whether or not the vehicle has been in a flood (dmv.org)

2. Ask the seller questions

  • Why are you selling the car?
  • What was the vehicle’s prior use? (Who drove it? Was it mostly city, highway, or country road driving?)
  • What is the vehicle’s history (e.g., recalls, accidents, theft, flood)? See if the seller’s response matches the reports you found when searching the VIN.

3. Go for a test drive

Get in the car and drive it. Do you feel comfortable and safe? Listen to how the vehicle sounds when traveling at varying speeds and stopping. Examine the vehicle’s exterior and interior. Look for rust, dents, cracks, signs of water damage, funky smells, and tire quality. Check to see if everything works, including the doors, trunk, lights, windshield wipers, A/C and heater, turn signals, locks, audio system, mirror and seat adjustments, and automatic safety features.

4. Check the vehicle’s price.

Look up the vehicle’s value on websites such as TrueCar.com, kbb.com, Edmunds. com, or cars.com. If you have concerns with the vehicle, ask a mechanic to do an inspection and estimate how much it would cost to fix any issues. Consider the cost of tax, title, registration, insurance, and any warranty in the price of the car as well.

Buying a car can be stressful. Follow these tips before purchasing a used vehicle to help save headaches and money down the road.

606 Washington Blvd. Ogden, UT

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