red car with for sale sign in rear passenger window

5 Things to Know When You Shop for a Used Car

Many people shy away from buying used cars because they’re worried about being saddled with a lemon. But it’s possible to find a great used vehicle. Just remember to follow these simple rules.

Do a background check
Use the car’s vehicle identification number, or VIN, to review its history on Carfax and learn whether it has been involved in a major accident. If so, steer clear.

Look for a stamp of approval
If you want a car that’s guaranteed to last, opt for a certified pre-owned vehicle. You’ll pay more, but these cars go through a manufacturer-mandated inspection process and often come with a warranty.

Be wary of former rentals
The price might be great, but avoid rental cars without service records; there’s no telling what kind of abuse they’ve been through. Also, bypass discontinued nameplates, like Pontiac and Saturn, that are no longer supported by manufacturers.

Phone a friend
If you’d like some impartial (and free) advice.

Get a checkup
Before buying, bring the car to an Automotive Repair Services facilities, where technicians will put the vehicle through a 139-point inspection.

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Ken Coughlin

About the Author

Ken Coughlin


Experienced Chief Executive Officer with a demonstrated history of working in the insurance industry. Strong business development professional skilled in Negotiation, Budgeting, Business Planning, Operations Management, and Property & Casualty Insurance.

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