Here are some things to keep in mind when looking for a used car, truck, van or SUV:

  • Avoid shopping at night or on overcast or rainy days. Darkness, artificial lights and overcast conditions make it difficult to spot faults or damage on the body and interior. Rain on the surface of the used automobile will make it difficult to judge the condition of the paint.
  • Remember, not everyone trades in or sells a used automobile just because it has problems.
  • You have the right to thoroughly inspect the automobile, both its appearance and how it functions.
  • You have the right to have the automobile inspected by a mechanic.
  • If the seller makes it difficult to perform the procedures outlined in this book, it may be because there is something to hide. Walk away from that automobile.
  • Have patience. If you can't find the right automobile after looking at a few, do not get discouraged or start taking shortcuts. The items you overlook may come back to haunt you when you own the automobile. It may take as many as ten or more tries before you find your automobile.
  • The older the automobile, the greater chance of it having structural deterioration due to rust. This is especially true of coastal areas and areas that have snow. The areas of most concern are the suspension, brakes and steering. Rust can even weaken the basic structure of an automobile.
  • If your an inexperienced buyer looking for an automobile with collector's appeal or you're thinking of it as an investment, beware. The market for the classic car is tricky. In order to deal in this market without getting burned, you will need some experience. Join an enthusiast's club before you start looking at these automobiles.
  • Bring a friend with you when looking at automobiles. Among other reasons, he or she may notice things you may overlook.