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Take your time when looking at cars and try not to hurry through the process. Try to shop for a car under conditions which allow you to properly inspect the vehicles. Having a friend or family member with you can help you make a better appraisal of the automobile. Don't expect perfection in a pre-owned vehicle; cars are machines, and machine parts wear out. What works today unfortunately may not work tomorrow, and there's often no way a dealer can forecast problems.
You need to be serious when inspecting the car for problems or damages, both inside and outside the vehicle. You may want to take the automobile to a repair shop or mechanic to gain a third-party perspective. You may have to pay for this service, but the money you invest can help you make an informed decision. If the selling dealer discourages you to have the vehicle inspected, this may be a clue to shop somewhere else. Look for the obvious; water and oil leaks, worn belts, and hoses; and smoke from the exhaust. And don't forget to "kick" the tires. These are items which affect reliability and repair costs.
Go For a Drive. It is essential to take the car for a road test before you make a purchase. The dealer will probably ride with you, but be sure you have the chance to drive the car yourself. Trust your instincts: If you drive the car and it just doesn't feel quite right to you, make sure you and the dealer agree on what is to be done and put it in writing.
Use Your Head When Signing the Deal. Keep in mind what you can spend for a car payment and don't stretch your dollars beyond your budget. When making your purchase; take time to read and understand all of the agreements and papers in front of you. If there are any blank spaces on contracts, fill them in. If you are required to make a deposit, ask if it's refundable and under what circumstances and put that in writing also.
Shopping smart for a pre-owned vehicle isn't rocket science; it just takes a little study time. Hopefully the next time you shop for a used car, you'll make a passing grade. Next time you're shopping for a car, remember to look for the TNIADA Member decal on the dealer's office window. That sticker represents the dealer's commitment to integrity, honor and dealing fairly with the public as subscribed in the TNIADA Code of Ethics.