Buying a used car is a very involved process. You want to make sure you don’t get stuck with a lemon, but how? There are extra steps you can take to understand exactly what it is you’re buying. Here are three vital things to do when you’re buying a used car to make sure you know exactly what you’re getting into.
Use an OBD Scanner
If you’re inspecting a used car in person one of the most useful things you can bring is an OBD scanner. An OBD (on board diagnostic) scanner is a tool that instantly shows you error codes that the vehicle’s self-diagnostic is reporting. OBD scanners use a 16-pin connector and plug directly into your vehicle. Many of them have associated apps that can show you what error codes mean right on your phone, but if you don’t have an app you can write down the codes and look them up later. Using an OBD scanner can instantly show you if the car has a load of problems, and if there are too many, you know right away that it isn’t worth purchasing the vehicle. If the scanner doesn’t reveal a number of issues, then it’s worth continuing the inspection.
Have a mechanic inspect the vehicle
If you’re serious about purchasing a used car, you’ll want to have a mechanic inspect the vehicle. Some mechanics are more than willing to come and meet you to do an on-site inspection. Otherwise, you can arrange to bring the vehicle to a shop and have an inspection done. A pre-purchase inspection typically ranges between $100-$200 dollars. If you or a friend are car-savvy, then you can inspect the vehicle yourself when you go see it. If you aren’t mechanically inclined, however, you may miss something serious and it could end up costing you in the long run. It’s better to spend $100 now on an inspection and rather than buying the car and spending a few extra thousand on repairs later.
Get a vehicle history report
One of the most important aspects of buying a used car is to understand its past. The best way to get that information is by running a vehicle lookup by VIN and ordering a comprehensive vehicle history report. ClearVin has partnered with the National Motor Vehicle Titling Information System (NMVTIS), a program of the U.S. Department of Justice, to provide you with the best and most reputable information possible in every report. We provide a title check by VIN that will allow you to view brand history, as well as the dates the vehicle was purchased and registered. Our motor vehicle records also indicate any current, outstanding, and past liens that were placed against the vehicle. Bring the report with you so you can discuss all the details with the car’s previous owner. Check out a sample report here.