How to Buy a Used Car

Buying a Used Car

Buying a used car or truck can seem overwhelming. How do you ensure that you're getting a safe, reliable vehicle while also paying a fair price? The key is to do your research ahead of time and, when your unsure if the car or truck is in good operating condition or not, to have a qualified mechanic perform a pre-purchase inspection.

A good place to start the used car buying process is at the website They offer lots of helpful tips and advice that can answer most of the questions you are likely to have.

1. Decide Which Vehicle is Right For Your Needs

With a budget and type of vehicle in mind, websites like Edmunds and Kelly Blue Book are reliable sources for determining the purchase price and cost of ownership for used cars, trucks and SUV. It's also important to factor in the cost of insurance and annual maintenance.

2. Check the Recall History

Once you have identified a make and model that you're interested in purchasing it's important to ensure there are no open recalls or Technical Service Bulletins (TSB) for the particular make and model you are interested in. Search the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's list of Recalls and Technical Service Bulletins (TSB) to see if the vehicle has any notices listed.

3. Obtain a Vehicle History Report

Once you have found a car you're interested in buying you will want to do some research before meeting the seller. Obtain the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) from the seller. Enter the VIN at CarFax to run a vehicle history report. The report will tell you if it has been involved in any accidents, has failed smog checks, or had other past issues.

4. Arrange a Test Drive

Unless the vehicle is not operable or needs work to be roadworthy, never buy a car without first taking it for a test drive. During the test drive check that everything is working, including lights, wipers, climate controls, cruise control, power options, etc. Are there any warning lights that are staying on? Does the vehicle make any unusual sounds? Does it handle predictably and accelerate and stop smoothly? Is there any black or white smoke coming from the exhaust?

Ask the seller questions, including why they are selling and whether they have service records for the time they have owned the vehicle. Inspect the exterior and interior of the car. Are there signs of damage or repairs? This can include uneven paint and newer looking parts. Is the overall condition of the vehicle in line with the milage? Or, is it a low milage car that shows excessive wear and tear?

5. Pre-Purchase Inspection By a Qualified Mechanic

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Once you have found the car or truck that you would like to purchase, before negotiating the price, consider having a professional mechanic inspect the vehicle. If there were issues that you found during the test drive or inspection, your mechanic can tell you what it would cost to have the problems corrected. Your mechanic can also do a visual inspection, perform an on-road test and run computer diagnostics if needed.

After the inspection you will have the knowledge you need to negotiate a fair price and have the peace of mind knowing that you are getting what you expect out of the transaction.

Need a pre-purchase inspection? Call the friendly mechanics at Parkway Auto Care. Help is right around the corner.



Parkway Auto Care
1581 Ford Pky St Paul, MN 55116

Phone: 651.698.3208
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