Credit-challenged consumers need to take advantage of used car shopping tools when looking to purchase a previously-owned vehicle.
First step - Vehicle history reports
One of the first steps is being able to trust that the car you're buying is what the seller says it is. If it's a used car, then getting a vehicle history report is a valuable tool. While these reports don't always contain every single piece of information on a car, they are a good start.
The two largest companies selling these reports are Carfax and AutoCheck. Even though both companies are similar, AutoCheck also offers its users an unlimited number of vehicle history reports over a 30 day period, while Carfax charges the same fee for only five of its reports. So depending on the number of vehicles that you're shopping, you can save money.
But regardless of the company you use, be sure to run a report on any used car you're seriously considering.
Second step - Physical vehicle inspection
Next, if the car's history is clean, you should then ask the seller if you can have it mechanically inspected. Take it to an ASE certified master mechanic to have this service performed.
Both individual mechanics and vehicle inspection companies offer this service. And even though you will have to pay for this service, consider it money well spent, as a vehicle with hidden damage could cost thousands of dollars in repair bills, as well as result in a lower resale value at trade in time.
If the seller refuses to let you have the vehicle inspected by a mechanic, it's probably best to just walk away.
So, a vehicle history report can be a valuable first step in deciding on a used car, as long as it's followed up by a proper physical inspection.
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