When shopping for a used vehicle, you may feel like a gambler - hoping for the best odds.
We asked a mechanic to show us how to ask the right questions and look for any red flags. Here is a summary of the tips he had:
1. Look under the hood - pay close attention to any residue on the engine, make sure the battery is no older than 3-5 years old, and feel the belts and hoses for wear.
2. Check for signs of repair after collision damage - when checking under the hood, look at the paneling on the inside. If there are different colors, that may mean it was replaced after an accident. Also, make sure the doors line up with the rest of the body.
3. Ask for a vehicle history report - if service records are available, you can find out if the prior owner took care of the vehicle and maintained it properly. A lot of miles isn't necessarily a bad thing if the vehicle was well maintained.
4. Check the transmission fluid to make sure it's clean - the color should be pink to red. If it's brown or a darker color, there is likely a problem with the car.
5. Inspect the interior - if the interior is damp or there is an odor, it can signal a crack in the windshield or weather stripping that may need replacing.
6. Take it for a test drive - you can then look to see if the check engine light is on, and see if the car drives well. You can also listen for any noises the car is making.
After you check these items, it's also a great idea to take the car to a certified mechanic not affiliated with the dealership so they can give the car a once-over.
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