Check out the car’s repair record, maintenance costs, and safety and mileage ratings in consumer magazines or online. Look up the Kelley Blue Book value, and be prepared to negotiate the price.
Buying from a dealer? Look for the Buyers Guide from the Federal Trade Commission. It’s required by a federal regulation called the Used Car Rule.
- Make sure all oral promises are written into the Buyers Guide.
- Make sure you see a copy of the dealer’s warranty before you buy – it’s your right.
- Warranties are included in the price of the product; service contracts cost extra and are sold separately.
- Ask for the car’s maintenance record from the owner, dealer or repair shop.
- Test drive the car on hills, highways and in stop-and-go traffic.
- Have the car inspected by a mechanic you hire.
- Check out the dealer with local consumer protection officials.
- If you buy a car as is, you’ll have to pay for anything that goes wrong after the sale.
- The Used Car Rule generally doesn’t apply to private sales.
This information is adapted from "Tips for Buying a Used Car" published by the Federal Trade Commission.