#find a used car
How to Find the Most Reliable Used Car
Start shopping for a used car. You can view used car inventory at dealerships online, the newspaper, or used car publications specific to your area. Look for vehicle advertisements that state the overall mechanical condition of the car, such as dealer maintained, just serviced or well maintained.
Contact sellers by email or phone. Ask about the vehicle’s service history and find out if the maintenance and repair history is documented. Ideally, you should find a seller who can provide you with the receipts of the vehicle’s service history or provide the name of the dealership or shop who serviced the car.
Go see the car and test-drive it. If the vehicle has been maintained well, it should drive, accelerate, turn and brake smoothly. If you like the vehicle, ask to see the service records and read the papers thoroughly.
Write down the vehicle identification number (VIN), located inside of the driver’s side door jamb or viewable from the outside driver’s side windshield on the dashboard, and contact the shop who serviced the car. If the seller does not have receipts, you can obtain a list of completed work from a dealerships or shop. If the seller does have the receipts, call anyway to ensure the seller did not pass on recommended services.
Ask the service representative to go over dates and service history. Ask to have the information faxed to you or go to the shop to pick up copies. Ask specifically if the vehicle’s owner turned down any repairs, and if so, you may want to walk away from the deal if the owner recently turned down a major and necessary repair. Confirm that all major services have been completed, such as a timing belt replacement, if applicable.
Call your mechanic or one who can inspect the vehicle after you’ve confirmed the work. Make arrangements with the seller to bring the vehicle in for an inspection. If the mechanic agrees that the car is in excellent condition, it is likely to prove a reliable buy if you continue to keep up with the maintenance.