Shopping for a used car can save you thousands of dollars, but it’s essential that you avoid any costly mistakes. Consumer Reports’ auto and finance experts have put together some helpful advice on getting an excellent deal on your next vehicle.

Start by considering the type of vehicle you require, its intended use and your budget. Then, search for a used car that meets these criteria.

1. Check the mileage.

When purchasing a used car, you should pay close attention to the odometer. Doing so can help you assess whether the vehicle is worth its asking price.

By following these tips, you can help avoid being taken advantage of when purchasing a used car. Not only will this save you time and money in the long run, but it will also give you peace of mind that your purchase was done with due diligence.

2. Check the oil.

When purchasing a used car, it is essential to ensure its condition. Additionally, check its history report and request service records.

This can help determine if the car has any hidden issues and enable you to negotiate for a lower price.

3. Check the brakes.

If you want to purchase a pre-owned car that you can trust, do your due diligence and check the mechanics. Get an inspection before signing any papers as well.

First and foremost, inspect your brakes. Make sure they’re responsive and don’t pull to one side when applied.

4. Check the tires.

It’s wise to inspect the tires of any potential used purchase for low tread and uneven wear on each tire’s outside shoulder.

Additionally, make sure your tires are properly inflated. Overinflated tires may lead to problems with brakes and steering.

5. Check the battery.

The battery is an essential element of any car, especially hybrids. Look out for signs that it has been overdrained or hasn’t received proper care.

It’s wise to inspect the hood of your vehicle carefully as well. Check for oil splatter, water stains and corrosion – these can give you insight into how it was maintained over time.

6. Check the interior.

The interior of your car should appear well-kept and comfortable, with a pleasant aroma.

A musty or moldy smell in a car could indicate it has been left out in the elements for too long, or could indicate smoking was done inside of it.

7. Check the engine.

Your car’s engine is essential to its running smoothly. If it’s in poor condition, you could face engine failure and other issues down the line.

Maintaining awareness of your engine is essential for spotting any issues before they turn into costly repairs. Pay attention to unusual noises like rumbling, knocking, squealing or hissing noises to alert yourself of potential issues.

8. Check the tires.

When purchasing a used car, it’s essential to take your time and ensure it is the ideal vehicle for you. This includes inspecting the exterior for dents, scratches and rust.

Next, inspect the tires to make sure they’re in excellent condition. They should be fully inflated and boast plenty of tread depth.

9. Check the brakes.

One of the best ways to determine if your brakes are in good condition is taking a test drive. If you hear grinding noises while coming to a stop, those pads likely need replacing and should be checked during this exercise.

Test driving the brakes with different pressures can give you an indication of whether they may need realigning or warping due to overheating. If you feel vibrations when applying brake pressure, take this as a warning sign that your rotors may need replacing or alignment.

10. Check the oil.

No matter if you purchase from a dealer or private seller, it’s essential to thoroughly inspect the car before agreeing to purchase.

Make sure your mechanic inspects the car for rust and other defects that could lead to future issues. Additionally, test drive the vehicle so you get an idea of how well it drives and handles.

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