How to Buy a Used Car: Ways to Protect Yourself

Buying a used car instead of a new one can be a great way to save money without major compromises. But do you know what to look for when buying a used car?

The biggest difference between buying used as opposed to new is the fact that a used car that’s three or more years old may no longer be covered under the original manufacturer’s warranty.

Most new cars come with comprehensive (bumper to bumper) warranties of 36 months or longer, but that warranty period varies by manufacturer. And most coverage is limited by mileage, as well as time. Many cars also have a longer manufacturer’s warranty on specific things like powertrain, which covers components like engine and transmission. It’s always important to confirm the warranty terms for any car you consider buying.

If you’re buying a used car that is beyond its original warranty period, the biggest risk is the unknown. Are there problems lurking beneath the surface? Are there major parts about to fail that might leave you stranded, and could mean big repair bills? What should be on your buying a used car checklist?

When you buy your next car from TRED’s network of trusted sellers, you can be confident that you won’t be blindsided by problems or stuck with unexpected costs. In addition to prescreening each seller, we protect your used car purchase in two significant ways:

1. Full vehicle history via CARFAX report

First, all cars sold via the TRED marketplace include a free CARFAX report, so you can find out things like owner history, whether a car has ever been declared a lemon or salvaged (damaged to the point where an insurance company deemed it a total loss.) You can also find out if it’s been in an accident or otherwise compromised.

A CARFAX report is a key first step, and you should never consider buying a car without one. But it’s important to remember that it can’t always tell you everything. It’s not safe to assume that all important parts of a car’s history will be captured by a report—many significant modifications or damage may go unreported and never become a part of the record.

2. Comprehensive inspection by a certified mechanic

Additionally, all of our cars feature an inspection by an ASE-certified mechanic. ASE is the certification the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence gives to repair shops. It tests and verifies that mechanics are competent and meet high quality standards for repair and service.

During an inspection, the mechanic will test and measure all of your car’s major systems and components. They’ll make sure everything is working properly. They’ll also note any parts that may be nearing the end of their working life and may need replacement.

Obviously, an expert making a thorough inspection of a car is the best way to uncover any wear, damage, or potential problems. It’s highly unlikely there will be any surprises after a certified mechanic makes this thorough assessment.

To sum it up, buying a used car is a great way to save some money—just make sure you make use of information and tools available to you, like CARFAX and inspections.

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