KANSAS CITY, Mo. – March is one of the best months to buy a used car, according to experts, because most people are buying new, causing used car prices to fall.
So here are some tips on how not to get taken when looking for a used-car deal.
A car can look beautiful on the outside but be a rebuilt wreck on closer examination. One in four cars involved in accidents end up on the used-car market, said Emilie Voss with CARFAX.
“CARFAX data shows that the average impact to retail value to a car that has been in an accident is about $500,” Voss said. “That number jumps to about $2,100 if the accident is a severe one.”
So how do you protect yourself from overpaying for a damaged car or getting a stuck with a bad repair job?
Not surprisingly, Voss recommended checking sites like CARFAX or AutoCheck.com to see whether any crashes have been reported.
If the car lot provides you with one of those reports, make sure it has that day’s date on it. Unscrupulous sellers will provide old reports that don’t reflect current damage.
Besides checking for damage, pay attention to how many times the car has been sold at auction. If it has been sold and resold multiple times over a short period, that can be a red flag that the car has serious problems.
Remember that many crashes don’t show up on sites like CARFAX simply because the car owner might never have reported the crash to their insurance company.
To protect yourself, you should never buy a used car without first having it inspected by your own mechanic. A typical inspection costs about $100, but can save you thousands.