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Buying a used car can be worrisome, considering the grim prospect of getting a lemon. Although tools like Carfax can help consumers identify mileage and title issues, there is another problem. Some dealerships will employ questionable tactics to sell a vehicle. All used car shoppers should know these tips to protect themselves when looking for that preowned vehicle bargain.

What should you not do when buying a used car? 

Used car shoppers should know these tips
Buying a vehicle like one of these can be stressful | Artur Widak, Getty Images

Used car shoppers should never buy a car by ‘taking someone’s word for it.’ It is important to make sure that the vehicle you are buying is everything that you think it is, and nothing less. Don’t be afraid to ask for documentation, and snap a picture of the VIN number for reference. 

Furthermore, buyers should avoid buying a used car with unknown mileage. Unknown mileage could refer to a classic car with inaccurate mileage readings, and sometimes, that’s OK. However, unknown mileage could indicate the sinister practice of tampering with a car’s odometer. 

Get your used car checked out by an independent mechanic

Getting an opinion on a used car from an independent mechanic is a valuable practice. If you don’t have any mechanical training or aptitude, paying for an inspection from a professional is definitely worth it. A mechanic may catch leaks, odometer inaccuracies, damage, and other issues that you might not find yourself until it’s too late. Further, an independent mechanic likely doesn’t have a financial interest in a dealership or seller making extra money. That eliminates the likelihood of a conflict of interest and lessens the probability of shady practices. 

Use tools like Carfax to verify the vehicle’s mileage

Digital odometers aren’t safe from tampering. 7NEWS spoke with Brad Walker about his used car experience buying a Chevrolet Avalanche with inaccurate mileage on its digital gauge. Walker responded to an advertisement for an Avalanche with less than 110,000 miles, when in fact, the truck had over 300,000 miles. Further, Walker provided 7NEWS with an ominous warning for consumers. “I’m the one to blame in the end. I should have Carfaxed it, and I just want everybody else to do the same thing. Carfax it. Don’t make the mistake I made,” said Walker.

Pay attention to the paperwork that you are signing

Used car shoppers should know these tips
Buying a used car can be stressful | J. Conrad Williams, Getty Images

It sounds self-explanatory but sometimes used car shoppers are so eager that they neglect to look at what they’re signing. Signing paperwork that releases the car ‘as-is,’ or with unknown history releases the selling entity of culpability if something happens. So buyers should beware of what they’re agreeing to when they sign for a used car. 

Go ahead, buy a used car. Just be smart about it

Buyers shouldn’t be dissuaded from buying a used car based solely on the chance of getting a lemon. Instead, if a shopper can use these tips and tools like Carfax, a used vehicle can often be a great bargain. Scroll down to the following article to learn more about some used cars that might make you money. 

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