There are few things that call to mind regret faster than realizing after you have paid cold hard cash for a used car that it is a lemon. It can happen to the best of us, but you can be sure it doesn’t happen to you. Almost any time you find yourself getting ready to buy a used car, make sure these tips were followed first.

You might think that car is a great buy. Heck, you could be looking at a slightly used Mercedes that the owner swears was garaged all its short life and treated with tender loving care. But mileage can be messed with and auto accident reports can be missing, so always be sceptical. Buying a used car is both an adventure and a risk, but it can be a good one. You just have to do your due diligence first, as you will see in these tips you need to keep in mind for that next used car buy.

Have A Plan in Place

It is tough to end up where you want to be when you don’t have a plan on how to get there. This is true when it comes to driving cross country, and it certainly holds true for buying a used car. Do you know exactly what make and model you are planning to buy and why? You might have a price range in mind, but not the kind of vehicle. Start with what you want it to do, what features it needs to have and maybe even how many years old you are willing for it to be.

If you do your research you will soon find that used cars, like wine, have good years and bad years. The same make and model can have years where there were plenty of recalls and some that it seems they finally figured out what worked, stuck to it for a few years, and made some really great cars. Know this stuff before venturing into the world of used cars or you will be sorry.

Ask Around

Once you have an idea of what you are going to be looking for, where to find it? Of course, there are plenty of places online where you can buy a used car. But that often means buying it without seeing and having it shipped in from across state lines. There are certain risks with this.

If you are looking around locally, talk to friends, fellow workers and neighbors about their car buying experiences. We all know the reputation of used car salesmen, but they aren’t all crooks. You might even want to add the car lots of local fleet companies as they are often selling the cars from their corporate fleets after a few years. Talk to plenty of people, look at reviews and decide for yourself what route you want to take to that used car. Local or online, dealer or private sale – it is all up to you and your research.

Read Contracts Thoroughly

Finally, even if you do decide that the local guy who has a For Sale sign on his old car is your best bet, get it all in writing. Even if the two of you are best buddies, make sure that your old Marines buddy writes down what he is selling and what he is guaranteeing about the car.

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