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Getting a used car saves you money, but this doesn’t mean that there aren’t any pitfalls to look out for. For example, some cars have outdated or poor-functioning alternators. Alternators are essential in powering a car’s dash, battery, and air conditioner. When you inspect a car, take a look at the lights and dash. If the lights appear dim, this means the alternator isn’t working properly. This is just one example of something that can be wrong with a car. Here are other red flags to watch out for when choosing a used car.

Sellers who refuse inspection

Watch out for sellers who won’t let you have the car inspected before you buy it. This could mean that the seller is hiding some things about the condition of the car.

You must get an inspection because you want to know if the car you want to buy functions properly. Even if you have to pay for the inspection, this saves you money in the long run because you won’t get stuck with a bad car.

Negative reviews

Researching different dealerships in your area and reading reviews is a key part of the process. If you see too many negative reviews of a certain dealership, then this could be a red flag.

Also pay close attention to what is in those reviews because if the complaints are centered around certain issues, this gives you an idea why you should avoid those dealerships. If you know friends who received service from those dealerships, get their feedback. If it matches the complaints in the reviews, then find another dealership.

Is the car stolen?

This is another big red flag to watch for when buying used. If you can’t locate the car’s vehicle identification number, then there is a chance it is stolen.

If the seller only wants to accept only cash for the car, this might mean that something is shady with the seller. Other signs include suspicious paperwork, fake-looking license plates, and offers that seem too good to be true. Never be afraid to walk away from a deal you have a bad feeling about.

Lack of proper title papers

Another classic red flag is when the seller does not give you the title papers. The title paper is the main thing you need to prove ownership of the car and if the seller does not have them, walk away.

Worn out interior features

Some used car salespersons focus on how nice the exterior looks or how much power the engine has. But if the salesperson doesn’t talk a lot about the interior, you should take a second look. If the interior features are worn out, outdated, or even broken beyond repair, then this is probably not the right car for you.

Questionable dealership financing tactics

It is fine to get dealership financing, but there are some red flags to look out for. With the negative equity scam, the dealer says he’ll pay off your trade-in but what they do is bring your old car in, pay the difference, and then add the negative equity to your new loan.

Another scam is when the dealer lets you drive the car home but later contacts you and claims that your credit check wasn’t good. They then tell you that you’ll need to bring the car back, but you qualify for a loan at a usually higher interest rate.  Always make sure to take care of the financing before you leave the dealership.

In conclusion, you want to shop smart when looking for a used car. Don’t get fooled by the sweet deals and pictures of cool cars you see online. You want to trust your instincts if something doesn’t seem right because this could mean that a seller or dealership is ripping you off.