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Tips for Buying a Used Car

January 4th, 2013 Personal Finance

Oftentimes, used vehicles are the best deals available in the automobile world, especially more recent models. The prices and ownership expenses are generally lower, and you could get a huge deal on well-equipped vehicles that would be tough to pay for if they were new. Next time you're looking to buy a used car, consider these tips from the Federal Trade Commission, CNN and ConsumerReports.org.

1. Shop for newer cars that still have a portion of their manufacturer's basic warranty remaining, which often extends for at least three years or 36,000 miles. You may get a year or so if you buy a car that is less than three years old. Just make sure the warranty is transferable.

2. Look into Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) vehicles, which are late model vehicles usually with less than 50,000 miles. They've been through plenty of inspections and have been serviced before the car was put on the lot. CPO programs often include a no-cost extended warranty on major parts like the engine or transmission.

3. Do your research to determine what some of the problems with the model typically are and ask for the car's maintenance record. If the owner doesn't have this information, the dealership or mechanic that did the work may share the files with you.

4. Examine the car yourself using an inspection checklist from a website, auto magazine or book. You could also hire a trusted mechanic to check it out for you. Be sure to test-drive the vehicle on a variety of terrains if possible.

5. If you buy a used car from a dealer, make sure to ask for the original Buyers Guide or at least a copy. It should reflect negotiated changes in warranty coverage and will become part of your sales contract.