Consumer Reports: Ins and outs of buying a good used car

Consumer Reports

CONSUMER REPORTS — “My car started making a weird noise; my air conditioner stopped working again; and then when I got home from my honeymoon, the check engine light came on. I’m done, I’m buying something else,” said car owner Dan Barkyoumb.

But, as Dan Barkyoumb learned, finding a used car for sale can be a bit of a challenge.

“The shortage of new cars available for sale right now, has actually made demand for used cars jump too! The average price of a used car jumped 12.5-percent over the past year,” said Jon Linkov, Consumer Reports Auto Editor.

One tip – Do your research on current pricing and deals on several models to increase your chance of finding what you want.

Also, don’t be tempted to rush into a purchase when you find the used car you’ve been looking for at a sweet price; Consumer Reports says — if it looks too good to be true, it may be a lemon!

“When buying any new car, check for open recalls at You can also get a vehicle history report. But the best way to ensure that a car is roadworthy is to have it inspected by an independent mechanic before you buy,” Linkov said. 

If you’ve bought a lemon from a dealer, a state’s attorney general’s office can explain how your state laws protect you, but if you purchased from a private seller, you’ll have fewer protections.

CR’s advice – try to get as many guarantees about the condition of the vehicle in writing, in case you end up in court.

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