2. Don’t limit your inspection to used or previously owned vehicles. New cars, too, should get a close look. For example: What information is available about the types of problems and/or repair issues that you can expect for this vehicle? What is the satisfaction rate among current owners of the vehicle you are considering? What should you expect to pay for routine repairs and maintenance? How many miles per gallon should you expect to get?
3. Consider a mechanic. It won’t hurt to have a mechanic give the car a once over. In fact, it can be a great help. You should expect to pay a mechanic about $100.00, on average, to conduct your pre purchase inspection. Probably worth it at twice the price when you consider the cost of buying an ugly duckling disguised to look like a swan to the untrained eye. Remember, buying a car is not like buying a blouse – you can’t take it back within a week or two for a full refund. Inspection should include major systems such as air conditioning, electrical, engine and brakes as well as smaller issues such as speaker sound and window seals. While it is true that these smaller issues won’t necessarily impact performance, it is almost certain that they will impact satisfaction.
4. Talk with others who own a car in the same make/model family. What have their experiences with the car been like? Would they buy again or recommend the same car?
5. Finally, don’t be afraid to really look at the car objectively. Yes, it can be disappointing after you have done the research and planning to find just the right car – but ignoring any problems you find will not ease your pain. You may be able to overlook some minor problems, but at some point you must draw the line. To avoid this scenario have a back up plan, just in case. Be prepared to walk away from potential trouble. If you found the car on one lot, chances are you can find the same car in better shape on another. Take your time to make a purchase you can feel good about today and in the years to come.