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Tips For Buyers
Your best deal on a used car is buying a well-maintained low mileage used car. Low mileage, well-maintained used cars tend to be original owner cars. Considering only original owner used cars should save time and money. Only at can you save a search for an original owner car.
At, the sellers must certify the history of each vehicle they list by responding to a series of true/false questions. How they respond to these questions determines whether their vehicle will be listed on Shelf 1, 2 or 3 as an Original Owner Car, as an A-1 Owner Car or on the Cars, Cars, Cars listing. The car sellers are responsible for the information in their listing.
Most original owners will be honest with you. But you must be cautious!
If you don't know what type of car you want, then browse the showrooms
- or -
Check Consumer Reports. Check their evaluations and conclusions about reliability and driveability. Then go to dealers and test drive your possible choices.
Decide on one or more choices and come back to
Here are some basic tips.

The more cars you call about and the more cars you look at the better you will be at evaluating cars.

If you are just starting the process, it might be best to get to know just one or two vehicle manufacturers at first.
Buying a used car from a private seller is risky and takes time. There are many con artists selling used cars. Be careful! Reduce the risk by buying an original owner car.
Calling a seller.
  • When calling a seller, confirm information in the ad and ask about other repairs and maintenance and maybe discuss price flexibility.
  • Call and look at many cars. Sometimes you think you are going on a wild goose chase and it turns out to be a deal.
Going to look at a car.
  • Try to look at a car on a nice day. Looking at a car in the rain is not fun and a wet car can hide body imperfections.
  • When you go to look at a car, determine if the seller has warmed it up. This can hide problems. If the seller has warmed it up already, you can still check it out, and if you buy it, before you actually pay for it, tell the seller you want to start it cold.
  • As you are checking out a car, start it and let it run, make sure it gets up to operating temperature. Problems may show up when the car is cold or show up only when it is all warmed up, problems like, transmissions slip, motors squeal, oil leaks, engines overheat, etc.
  • Walk around the car checking the color matching and the fit of body panels.
  • Look down the side of the car, at the long lines down the side of the car checking for alignment and body nicks and dings. A dirty car can hide or make some body imperfections hard to see.
  • As you are checking out the car, ask the questions face to face that you may have already asked on the phone like accidents, thefts, maintenance done, problems with the car or any other questions you may have.
  • Check the wear spots for actual mileage on the car higher than shown on the odometer. These wear spots include: the seats, the steering wheel, the door handles, the shifter handle, threshold wear, original key wear and key areas wear, door hinge wear.
  • On the outside, wear spots are low or up front, spots that get sand blasted constantly as we drive. Here you may have to compare actual models with high and low mileage to see how these spots wear. The windshield also gets sand blasted so check it for wear and originality.
Check underneath for damage.
  • Have low chassis, body, and suspension parts been scraped or low parts actually been hit?
  • Look at the oil pan, transmission pan, exhaust, spare tire holder, floor, gas tank. Damage to any of these spots is not good.
Look for Accident repairs.
  • Many cars have the Vehicle Identification Number, (VIN) on most of the body parts, if it's not there, that part has been replaced.
  • Underneath, the frame and/or the unibody get bent when in an accident.
  • When repaired, the frame and/or the unibody doesn't usually completely straighten out like new.
  • Compare one side of the car then the other to see if they have the same bends and curves.
  • The more cars you look at the better you will be at looking at them.
Tire Wear.
  • Are the tires original? You would think the tires on the car would be original, if the mileage on the car, was lower than the expected tire life. If not, Why?
  • Are the tires a matching set? Are they wearing evenly?
  • If the tires are brand new maybe someone is trying to hide something.
  • Note: on 4 wheel and all wheel drive vehicles tire matching is a must including tire wear. Serious drivetrain damage could occur if the tires do not match.
Take it for a drive.
  • It's probably a good idea to check the registration to see if it's legal for the streets. Be sure you are not taking an unsafe vehicle onto the streets. When was it last inspected? Be Careful.
  • Feel the smoothness and the power of the car from a start and as you are driving.
  • Drive it at different speeds 20, 30, 40, 50, 60mph.
  • Check for vibrations in the steering wheel, the seat, and the shifter. There should be none.
  • Go slow around a tight corner with the windows down to listen for noises.
  • Stop and shift from drive then to reverse back and forth a couple of times. Keep your foot on the brake! Listen. The sound should not be loud. Again the more cars you look at the better you will get at looking at them.
  • How do the brakes feel? Do a couple of semi panic stops. Does it pull left or right?
  • How does the automatic shifting feel going through the gears?
  • Check it out on a slow take off and, on a fast take off. How does the clutch feel and sound?
After you have driven the car.
  • After you have driven the car, you probably have a good idea that you either like the car or you don't. If you like the car continue on looking and talking, and making sure everything works, and start to see how firm or not the price is.
  • Nearly all sellers will accept less than shown on an ad, except the unusual instance of a seller knowingly under pricing a car by a large amount to sell it fast. Be careful for frauds at all times.
Ask to see the title.
  • Check its authenticity, no erasures etc. Check the VIN on the car to make sure it wasn't tampered with. The VIN can be in many places on the car.
  • Make sure the title and car match.
  • Check the ID of the Seller before you actually hand over the money.
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