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Answered 2013-07-31 19:18:14
Here are some facts to gather when buying a used car:

  1. Owner's Name:
  2. Are you the registered owner:
  3. Last Inspection:
  4. Everything electrically sound:
  5. Do all gauges work:
  6. How often was the Transmission Fluid added:
  7. Car Make, Model, & Year:
  8. Selling Price & what is the lowest they'll take:
  9. Paint color & clear coat condition:
  10. Seat condition & Material:
  11. MPG:
  12. Miles:
  13. Ownership:
  14. Tire size & condition:
  15. Paint:
  16. Any leaks:
  17. Use much oil & how often changed & type of oil used:
  18. AC & Heat:
  19. Stereo system:
  20. Any mechanical problems had & have Service Records/Logs:
  21. Accidents:
  22. Anything New & Why:
  23. Safety features, i.e. airbags & seat belts:

Here are some things to consider asking when buying a used car:

  • Ask about the timing belt/chain. If the car is getting close to 100K miles, I would be asking if it had ever been changed. This is an excellent bartering tool when negotiating the price of a vehicle.
  • I would ask for a log of oil changes and repairs. Then I would take it (with permission) to a trusted mechanic and have him inspect the auto. There are services that will inspect the car in the phonebook.
  • I believe the correct way to deal with a used car is by using your common sense. If something doesn't feel right, then something is most likely wrong. Its not what you ask that counts its what you see that does.,
  • The other answers in here are great. As a former used car sales manager, I would recommend you get the dealer to run a "CARFAX" for you. This documents the car's life. You can do it yourself at "carfax.com." Next, try to locate the last owner or ask if the dealer will let you talk to them. Promise to avoid discussing purchase price, and you may have a good outcome. The previous owner doesn't want to discuss price either, but may be too happy to tell you about the time he ran off the bridge or got T-boned. But then, find out real mileage, was it a "North" (Snow country) car or a South (Warmer weather gentler on cars) car? The rest is up to and a good mechanic before you sign the deal.
  • A few more signs to look for in a bad used car. Mounting holes in the roof or dash, was it a taxi or a Police car? Badly worn brake pedal rubber. Low miles but with really worn seats and carpets, odomitor rolled back? If suspected look for scratches or mis-aligned digits on odomitor face. Mis-matched tires, all different brands names of tires, different tread patterns on each tire. Before starting engine, check all fluid levels, looking for sludge on oil dipstick or in transmission fluid. Also check rad for rust in antifreeze, and Power Steering fluid for water content. Drive it. Look for brake drag, steering wander, NOISES.
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