Used Cars: How to Avoid Buying a Lemon

used cars

In today’s new age of online shopping, it’s easy to fall for a used car. The choice can seem overwhelming and you may have trouble deciding which make and model to get. However, just because you’re buying a used car doesn’t mean you have to get a lemon.

Buyer Beware

Before you make a purchase, here’s a checklist you should go through to make sure that the car you’re buying is in good working order:

Check the VIN: Make sure you know what VIN your car is registered to. You can find the VIN in a variety of locations, including the driver’s side door, front grill, back of the front license plate, or rear plate. If your car is not registered to you, or if the VIN is not present in any of these places, contact the DMV or your local police department to confirm the VIN before you make a purchase.

If you’re buying a used cars in sacramento  from a private seller, call the seller ahead of time to find out the VIN. A seller who hasn’t been informed about the VIN can’t legally give it to you and doesn’t have any responsibility to provide you with it. You’ll need to do this even if you’re buying from a dealer who’s selling a certified pre-owned vehicle.

Make sure the car is registered to your VIN: If the VIN doesn’t match the VIN on your registration, it’s not legal for you to drive the car on the road. You can be cited for driving a vehicle without a license if you’re driving a car with a different VIN than your registration.

Used Car

Start the engine: Make sure the car starts on the first try. If you need to have it jump started, ask the seller to bring the car to a dealer for a test drive. If the car doesn’t start, you’ll need to bring the car to a dealer to have it inspected. You’ll also need to get an emissions test if the car is a smog-certified car.

Check the fluids: Make sure the engine oil, transmission fluid, and windshield wiper fluid are full. If you notice leaks or other problems, you should have the fluids replaced.

Check the brakes: Check the brake pads and the brake fluid level in the master cylinder. If the fluid is low, the brake pads should be replaced. If the brake fluid is low, you’ll need to have it refilled.

Check the tires: Check the tread depth on the tires. If the tires look worn out, have them replaced. If the tires are not in good condition, you’ll need to replace the tires.

Make sure the car is in good condition: Once you’ve checked the VIN, the fluids, and the tires, take the car for a test drive. Make sure the car runs properly, that the brakes work, and that the tires are still good. If you have a warranty with the car, you’ll need to have the dealer take care of any warranty issues.