Don’t Judge a Used Car by its Cover

If you are in the market for a quality used car, it is easy to get caught up in the appearance of the vehicle. After all, who doesn’t love a cherry red coupe with shiny chrome, or a hot sports car that looks fast even when it is sitting still?

Even so, it is important to look beyond the flash and evaluate the vehicle on its mechanical soundness – not just its good looks. Whether you are looking for cheap pre-owned vehicles in Washington DC or a great deal on a used SUV in Seattle WA, it is important to check the vehicle out thoroughly, review pertinent quality and reliability ratings and take a thorough test drive, before signing on the dotted line. Also, some dealerships offer a buy here, pay here option, which makes financing a car, that much simpler.

Check for Hidden Damage

A brand new paint job can make any used car look more appealing, but it is important to look beyond that fresh coat of paint and see what it might be hiding. If the car has been freshly painted, it could be an attempt to hide damage from a recent accident.

Look closely at the paint job and check for mismatched spots or signs of recent repairs. If you spot anything suspicious, ask the vehicle owner for an explanation – and check the vehicle history from a reliable source.

After you have given the surface of the vehicle a thorough once over, it is time to take a good look under the hood. Start by moving the vehicle from its parking space and checking for evidence of fluid leaks. If you spot any potential leaks, check the fluid levels and look for signs of leakage under the hood. Even a small oil leak could be a warning sign of serious damage – and that could cost you thousands of dollars in repairs.

If you are not an expert in the automotive field, it is a good idea to take along someone who is. Bringing your mechanic to the car lot with you is a great way to ferret out hidden damage that the casual observer might have missed.

If you are unable to bring a mechanic with you, ask the dealer if you can take the vehicle to your repair shop for an evaluation. Having the car thoroughly checked out by an independent garage is one of the best ways to make sure you are really getting the most for your money.

Speaking of getting the most for your money, be sure to check a current price guide for the amount you can expect to spend. Keep in mind that values will vary from region to region, and the better the condition of the vehicle the more you can expect to pay.

Buying a quality pre owned vehicle instead of a brand new one is a great way to save money and get more car for your money. Learning to evaluate the vehicle based on its merits and not just its looks will make you a smarter – and ultimately a richer – used car shopper.

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