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Monday, July 15, 2024

Red Flags to Watch out for When Shopping for a Used Car

Usually, buying a used car is fairly safe. The previous owner probably took care of it well enough, so that it won’t break down on the highway. We’ve come across some problems you should look for, though. If you notice any of these red flags, be very careful. Keep in mind that older cars, above 100K miles or so, are more likely to exhibit some of these warning signs. Nonetheless, you always need to know what you’re paying for.

Welds, Replacement Parts or Accidents in the History Report

Any of these things could mean that the vehicle was damaged badly. Especially if you notice repairs to the chassis or bumper (underneath the outer car body), the vehicle’s integrity may have been compromised. Often, when the strongest parts are damaged, other parts are damaged as well. You never know when one of them is going to give out.


If the title notes that the vehicle has been salvaged, that note will stay there forever. Reselling a salvaged vehicle could be a problem. Additionally, there could be damage that’s difficult to detect. Only buy a salvaged vehicle if the price reflects the salvaged status. In other words, it should be far below the normal market price. You’ll have to be OK with potential breakdowns, too, in many cases. Ask a mechanic when you’re in doubt.

Awkward Test Drive

If you notice something that’s a little “off” during your test drive, don’t ignore it. It could be an odor; it could be a vibration; it could be a noise. Whatever it is, ask a mechanic about it. It’s best to have a mechanic check the car out anyway, unless it’s a certified pre-owned vehicle from a reputable dealer.

Lots of Owners

Sure, it’s possible that a car having 4 owners in the past 4 years is a coincidence. They were all moving to New York, where they would use the subway, perhaps. More likely, they didn’t like the car or they had trouble with it. Though, more owners is generally a bad sign. The chance that one of the owners didn’t care for the vehicle gets higher as the number of owners gets higher. It only takes one bad owner to ruin the car.

A Shady Dealer or Seller

If you start to feel like a seller or salesperson is desperate to get rid of the car, you should take a step back. Never accept any deal that isn’t written on paper and signed by the selling party. Never be rushed into buying a vehicle, either. Morever, you can choose a good dealer before you even begin discussions. Just search for reviews online. The more reviews, the more reliable the average score is.

Inspection Failure

While older vehicles may fail inspections from time to time, vehicles with less than about 150K miles probably shouldn’t. If an inspection failure shows up on a history report, you’ll need to look into the problem with a mechanic. It could be an easy fix or it could be a symptom of a big, costly problem.

When you’re looking for your next vehicle, you should get online quotes. You can get them from your local dealers in no time, right here.