Used Car Buying Tips
2.) Look for aftermarket parts that have been installed to increase horsepower. Many times this is an indication that the vehicle has been whipped. If you are looking for a fast car, try finding a bone stock one and upgrading it yourself.
3.) Run a Carfax Report. This will tell you the vehicles ownership history and accident records.
4.) Get the vehicle inspected by a professional mechanic. There are many potential problems with a car that cannot be seen just by looking it over. Have the transmission fluid checked to insure the tranny is not about to go. Have it checked over for indications of previous damage (including flood damage - Katrina damaged cars are showing up everywhere).
5.) Be cautious when filling out the paperwork. Make sure the person selling the car is in fact the owner and has the title. Also be sure there are no registered liens against the car.
6.) Purchase a Warranty. Even when buying a vehicle from a reputable dealer, you need to get a warranty because once it leaves the lot, all problems are yours.
7.) When possible, purchase a certified pre-owned car, which requires thorough inspections and strict qualifications.
8.) Take the car for a test drive. Drive in the city and also on the highway to get a good over all feel for the way it runs. Listen to the engine when it is idling and under stress, particualarly noting any pinging noises. Test the brakes and listen for any grinding or squeeks they may make. Make sure the transmission is not slipping and that it shifts easily. Note any electrical/burning smells and have them checked out. Test the AC/heater and all power options (windows, door locks etc...).