This blog post is about how to find a good used car and avoid the lemon. More specifically, it’s about how to keep from getting ripped off when searching for used cars in reno that may or may not be a safe purchase.
Good used cars can provide you with years of enjoyment, but it’s important to go in eyes wide open and know what to expect and do your due diligence before buying one. This will help you stay away from any genuinely bad buys by keeping you informed and ahead of the game.
There are many ways new cars can end up on the market which are not necessarily bad cars, but rather just what they are – used.
What to Look for in a Used Car
Here is a brief list of things to look for in a used car. So before you go, read this list and all of the resources included here to help you get an idea of what to expect before buying one and avoid getting scammed by dishonest dealers or sellers.
When seeking out a used car, remember that these are just tips/items to look out for when searching and don’t take it as gospel that these MUST be present in a used car:
- A clear title in hand. All states have varying degrees of ‘title brands,’ which are basically an indication of the condition of the car, and whether or not it’s been salvaged/written off. They can be a little confusing, so here are some details in picture form:
As you can see, each title brand has its own color stamp. This alone won’t tell you too much except that if the car was deemed salvage and re-titled by its previous owner, it would have a black stamp on a yellow (or in some cases red or purple) title page. So it’s important to get the complete title history. In many states, you can also find out how many owners the car has had by looking at the document that comes with it – a Life History Report.
- A clean title history (no prior salvage titles or write-offs). This one should go without saying, but with an old car it’s important to make sure there are no other titles due to any previous owner screwing up and writing the car off.
In some states (such as California), you can still get a salvage title on a ‘clean’ used car. If you do get a salvage title, then all previous titles and history are wiped clean. That may be the only salvage ‘scar’ on the car, but on a car with zero previous write offs it’s worth wondering why.
- No major body damage and/or rust visible. This is one of the best indicators that a car is in good shape. If there are any major dents or holes in the body, make sure they aren’t surface scratches that can be repaired easily.