Buying a used car is a stressful experience if you don't know anything about cars. If you don't know what to look for, you may miss signs of potential trouble that could cost a lot of money in repairs. However, there are a few things you can do to reduce your risk of buying a lemon, even if you don't know a thing about auto mechanics. Just keep these tips in mind.

Buy From A Reputable Used Car Dealer

There is less risk involved when you buy a car from a dealer than if you buy one from a private seller you don't know. A dealer examines each car on the lot and details it so it is presentable. Basic service may be given such as an oil change or tire rotation so the car is in the best shape possible. A dealer wants to maintain a good standing in the community, so the last thing the dealership wants is to get a reputation for selling bad cars.

Take The Car For A Test Drive

Always test drive a car before you buy it. You may not be able to identify what causes problems, but if you're alert, you can tell when something isn't quite right with the car. For instance, rely on your senses to pick up strong odors such as gas or oil, listen for squeaks, rattles, and whines, and feel for vibrations and shaking. Also, notice if these signs occur repeatedly when you take a certain action. For instance, if you hear a squeak every time you hit the brakes, that could indicate you'll need to get new brakes soon if you buy the car. If you feel, smell, or hear unusual things consider them as warning signs it is best to pass on the car unless you can have the car checked by an independent mechanic first.

Look For A Car With A Warranty

If you buy a newer model used car, it may still have time left on the warranty. This will protect you if the car needs major repairs. Just be sure the warranty is transferable and that it is still valid. For the warranty to be honored, you may need proof of regular service according to the schedule recommended by the manufacturer. You might be able to access the service record if the car was taken to a dealership with central computerized files. Ideally, the previous owner kept all the records and they are with the car and available to the new buyer. Knowing the car was serviced regularly is a sign it was well taken care of, and that can give you peace of mind the car is in good shape.

It can be unnerving to shop for a used car, but keep in mind, you can get a lemon even if you buy a brand new car. Whether you buy a newer model or an older used car, buying from a used car dealership that has a good reputation in your community is probably the number one thing you can do to lower your risk of making a bad purchase.