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Buying a used car: Before you buy

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Before you start shopping for a car, you'll need to do some homework. Spending time now may save you serious money later. Think about your driving habits, your needs and your budget. You can learn about car models, options, and prices by reading newspaper ads, both display and classified. There is a wealth of information about used cars on the Internet: enter "used car" as the keywords and you'll find additional information on how to buy a used car, detailed instructions for conducting a pre-purchase inspection and ads for cars available for sale, among other information.

Libraries and bookstores also have publications that compare car models, options and costs, and offer information about frequency-of-repair records, safety tests and mileage. Many of these publications have details on the dos and don'ts of buying a used car.

Whether you buy a used car from a dealer, a co-worker or a neighbor, follow these tips to learn as much as you can about the car:

  • Examine the car yourself using an inspection checklist. You can find a checklist in many of the magazine articles, books and Internet sites that deal with buying a used car.
  • Test-drive the car under varied road conditions — on hills, highways and in stop-and-go traffic.
  • Ask for the car's maintenance record. If the owner doesn't have copies, contact the dealership or repair shop where most of the work was done. They may share their files with you.
  • Talk to the previous owner, especially if the present owner is unfamiliar with the car's history.
  • Have the car inspected by a mechanic you hire.
  • Research the frequency of repair and maintenance costs on the models in auto-related consumer magazines. The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Vehicle Safety Hotline (1-888-327-4236) and website (www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov) give information on recalls.
  • Check a trusted database service that gathers information from state and local authorities, salvage yards and insurance companies for an independent and efficient review of a vehicle’s history. For example, the Department of Justice’s National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS) is an online system that offers accurate information about a vehicle’s title, odometer data and certain damage history. Expect to pay up to $4 per report. The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) maintains a free database that includes flood damage and other information, so people can investigate a car’s history by its vehicle identification number (VIN).

Used with permission. © 2015 Walmart. All Rights Reserved. See full legal.

Used with permission. © 2014 Walmart. All Rights Reserved. See full legal.

 

Important Walmart Disclaimer: Proper service and repair procedures are vital to the safe, reliable operation of all motor vehicles as well as the personal safety of those performing the repairs and those riding in the motor vehicles. Standard safety procedures and precautions (including use of safety goggles and other safety equipment, proper tools and equipment) should be followed at all times to limit the possibility of personal injury or improper service which could damage the vehicle or compromise its safety.  Personal injury could result from the failure to take adequate safety precautions when repairing or maintaining your vehicle.  Although this material has been prepared with the intent to provide reliable information, no warranty or representation (express or implied), including the warranties of merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose, is made as to its accuracy or completeness. Neither is any liability assumed for loss or damage of any kind resulting from reliance on this material and Wal-Mart shall not be liable for any loss or damage of any kind resulting from reliance on this material.  Users employ the information contained in this material at their own risk.  This material is provided only as a helpful guide and does not replace the information and instructions contained in the motor vehicle's owner's manual and product manufacturer's recommendations.  Users are cautioned to consult the motor vehicle's owner's manual and product manufacturer's recommendations for additional information and instructions.   Failure to follow the motor vehicle's owner's manual and the product manufacturer's recommendations could result in damage to your vehicle or personal injury.  Additionally, users should be aware of the applicable laws of their local jurisdiction.

 

Any product information is provided by the supplier or manufacturer of the product and should not be construed as advice. Wal-Mart does not sponsor, recommend or endorse any third party, product, service or information provided on this site.

 

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