Check the Vehicle’s Reliability on the Internet

Family and friends used to ask me if a certain vehicle was “a good one” only after they’d bought it. Hello? What am I supposed to say then?

Buying a dependable used car takes a little bit of homework. Here’s a four-step plan that you can follow to have the best shot at getting a car that won’t turn into a money pit. This step-by-step inspection program works whether you’re buying from a car lot or a private party. It’s not rocket science, just simple logic when you need tips for buying a used car.

This story on tips for buying a used car isn’t about cosmetic issues like rust, body dents or dirty carpets. Plus, I’m assuming you’re buying a vehicle that’s out of the factory warranty period.

Once you decide on a few vehicle models you’re interested in, it’s time to begin your research in online forums such as edmunds.com and automotiveforums.com. These are two websites where you can read comments and ask questions of a pool of thousands of people who actually own that vehicle.

Review the owners’ comments and ask about their ownership experience. Find out if there are any recurring problems with that year, make and model and how much the owners have shelled out in repairs. Then ask whether they’d buy the same vehicle again. They’ll give you the straight dope. Some forum members respond immediately, but be patient; it might take a few days to get plenty of responses. Someone will always have a good tip on buying a used car.

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