Most buying guides tell you what to look out for when inspecting a car. What many neglect to mention is how to spot a problematic vehicle without going through the trouble of visiting a used car dealer’s lot only to comeback disappointed. There are many signs to spotting a doggy deal, but they will only be obvious to those in the know, to the rest of us, everything will look perfectly alright.

Identify the purpose of your purchase
List down what exactly you expect from the vehicle. Based on that you will know what it is that you are looking for.

Identify your budget
Set a realistic budget for the vehicle you are planning on buying. Remember to reserve a portion of it for repairs should you end up with a less than perfect example. Once you have come up with a figure, look through the classifieds for vehicles that fit the bill.

Beware of “Great Deals”
Just because a vehicle fits your budget and checks all the right boxes, doesn’t mean you should rush out and buy it, especially if it’s priced significantly lower than other vehicles that are of the same make and model. Sometimes, dealers have a had time selling problematic vehicles and to remedy that slash the price significantly.

Sometimes it’s better to buy from an owner
A used car dealer with a lot full of vehicles will have a hard time telling you exactly what you want to know, even when he is genuinely trying to do so. It’s not his fault as many cars roll in and out of his lot every day. Keeping tabs on each one is never easy. As such, buying one from an owner is sometimes a better idea. He/she will be able to tell about the life that that particular vehicle has had. They can also inform you of what mechanical problems to look out for in the long run as well as the best places to have the vehicle serviced.

Remember to ask the right questions
Before heading over to the used car dealer’s lot or owner’s residence try to ask as many questions as possible over the phone for tell tale signs of someone trying to sell you a lemon. Ask about service history, accident record, paintwork and condition of the tyres. If they try to hid the truth or avoid the question entirely, the vehicle probably isn’t in the condition that was advertised.

Keep these tips in mind and you might save yourself several trips to the used car dealer’s lot and only make the trip for potential buys.

[Naveen Victor]

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