5 On Your Side

What you should know before you buy a used car

Posted July 30, 2021 6:00 a.m. EDT
Updated July 30, 2021 8:16 a.m. EDT

It is not an ideal time to be looking for a good bargain on a new vehicle. Issues related to the pandemic led to a severe shortage of new models. Even used vehicles are in high demand and pricey. That’s why more people now look for a reliable used car.

5 On Your Side’s Monica Laliberte warns, "Buyer Beware! The used car market can be hit or miss. We’re hearing so many complaints lately from people who bought used cars that quickly broke down."

However, there are wise steps you can take to help protect yourself from ending up with a lemon.

Don’t go by outward appearances alone. The absence of dents or scratches doesn't mean there isn't a more costly problem on the inside, like behind the tires or under the hood.

A trusted mechanic will know what to look for. A safety and mechanical inspection typically costs about $100.

Also, research vehicle reliability to reduce the risk of getting one prone to problems.

A vehicle history report may reveal a lot more. Carfax and other paid services can uncover previous wrecks, mileage problems and safety recalls.

The owner should provide you with the most recent state inspection record. North Carolina requires annual inspections to assure the car is safe to drive.

Most used cars are sold "as is". There is no window of time when you can change your mind. The "Lemon Law" only applies to new vehicles.

However, there is a federal law that applies to used vehicles that are still under the original manufacturer’s warranty.

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