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What Makes a Good Used Car? How to Weed Through the Lemons

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What Makes a Good Used Car?

Buying a good used car takes a bit of research and preparation, but you can definitely find a good deal on a used vehicle and save quite a bit of money compared to buying a new one.

No matter what used car you buy, you’ll still have to perform your due diligence to ensure that you buy a good used car and avoid the lemons. Here’s what makes a good used car.

Test drive the car

Test driving the car on the highway and in the city will help you catch any unreported problems. If you can test drive it on more than one occasion it’s even better. You’ll also get to feel what it’s like to drive the car which is important if it turns out that you don’t like how it drives. Try to take the car up an incline and drive it at least 65 mph to ensure that it properly on the highway and in steep conditions.

Get the maintenance record

Most responsible car owners will have a maintenance record of their vehicle. Ask the owner to show when oil changes were performed, tire rotations, and other routine maintenance. If there is a good maintenance record, the chances are that the vehicle will be in good condition.

Try to buy recent models

When you buy a used car, you generally want to stick to recent year models with mileage under 60,000 if possible. Look for cars that are ideally anywhere from 3 to 5 years old. If you need to go back further than this you’ll need to be more careful with your choices but there are still several quality older vehicle models.

Have the car inspected by a mechanic

Even if it’s a recent model, you’ll need to have the car thoroughly inspected by a great mechanic in San Diego before you make a final purchase. You shouldn’t get an inspection until you know that you are ready to buy the car. Before you get an inspection there’s a lot that you can do on your own to catch problems, such as test driving the vehicle and visually inspecting it.

Check the interior and features

Be sure that you check the interior and test out the vehicle’s features like the air conditioning, stereo, locks, windows, and more. Check the every part of the interior and the upholstery for any unreported damage or stains. If you smell oil or antifreeze inside or outside the vehicle there may be a leak, so mention it to your mechanic or better yet, avoid the car altogether. That’s not a good sign!

Check the exterior and look for visible damage

Most used car ads will mention when there is visible damage on the vehicle and take pictures of it, but some won’t. You need to thoroughly inspect every angle of the vehicle to check for dents, rust, paint chips or other cosmetic defects. If the car has any defects that weren’t reported, be sure that the price is adjusted accordingly.

Check the vehicle history report

The vehicle history report will catch if there are any unreported accidents, a rolled back odometer, or if the car has a rebuilt title. Before you make your final purchase you should ask to see a copy of the vehicle history report, and the report should be as recent as possible. You can also purchase your own report from Carfax or AutoCheck.

Buy a car still under warranty if possible

A lot of used vehicles are still under warranty if they are recent year models. Try to find a model that has a partial or full warranty; this way any unexpected problems will be covered. It’s certainly not a requirement in order to buy a good used car, but it will give you a lot more peace of mind.


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