My father normally comes with me when buying a car, but he is away for business and my car died. I’m looking at buying a new car, but I don’t know what to look at aside from mileage, the exterior and the interior of the vehicle.
How can I be sure that I am not buying a clunker?
Buying a new car is exciting, but it’s also very tedious. If you’re purchasing a new car that is directly from the dealership and you’re the first owner, you’ll be covered under an extensive warranty with little worries about the vehicle’s maintenance and operation.
But if you’re buying a used car, there is a lot that you can do to help safeguard you from buying a lemon.
The first and most important thing is to look at the history of the vehicle. A 2018 Honda that has 15,000 and has been in an accident is more of a risk than a 2017 Honda with 25,000 miles. If the vehicle has been in an accident, you’ll want to look for details on the accident, such as what damage was sustained. Slight damage on a rear bumper is less concerning than front-end damage where the engine or frame might be impacted.
You can choose to use www.carvertical.com/vin-number-check which will require the vehicle’s VIN number to inform you about:
- Mileage accuracy
- Unreported damage
- Maintenance requirements
- Previous registration information
The VIN number check will also alert you if the vehicle has been stolen. A lot of people purchase vehicles for sale on the side of the road or from Facebook’s marketplace, but you need to make sure that the seller is the actual owner of the vehicle.
Repair records will also be important, but this can be tricky since there may be no records if the person does all of their own maintenance and repairs.
Every vehicle should have been reviewed on https://www.jdpower.com/ for reliability, and I recommend that you dig into the vehicle’s ratings. All you need is the vehicle date, make and model to see the rating.
Vehicles in the 90 to 100 rating are often luxury vehicles, so you’ll want to look for a vehicle rating that is 70 – 90 unless you’re purchasing a luxury vehicle. A 2015 Honda Civic has a 79 rating, but we can see that it has a mechanical rating of 9 which is very important. Most issues seem to be with the dealership sales and service experience.
If the vehicle is known to be reliable and has not sustained significant damage in an auto accident, you may want to take the vehicle for a test drive. See how the vehicle drives, and you can even pay a mechanic to inspect the vehicle for you. Mechanics often charge $100+ for an inspection, but they’ll be able to alert you of any glaring issues or maintenance that needs to be done on the vehicle.
Six states also have lemon laws, so you may have a right to return the vehicle if it was misrepresented when sold to you.
One final tip is to haggle during the financing and look up current rates and your credit score. If you have all of this information at your disposal, do not take a rate that is unacceptable. A lot of dealerships will try to lock you into a higher rate, but haggle and don’t be afraid to walk away from the deal.