Many experts will tell you that buying used cars is the best way to save money on your vehicle. You pay far less for a used car than you would for a brand new one, but there’s no significant decrease in the quality of the vehicle.

But buying a used car isn’t always as easy as it seems. There’s a real risk you end up driving away with a “lemon” that breaks down far too soon. Here are some questions to ask when buying a used car:

  1. How many owners has the vehicle had? — The more owners, the greater the wear and tear on the car. A single owner means a single driving style and a lower risk of the vehicle being in an accident.
  2. Has the vehicle been in an accident? – This doesn’t have to be a deal-breaker. If the vehicle wasn’t seriously damaged in a collision, it could mean it’s still a great car. But knowing the vehicle history is an important part of the buying process.
  3. Are there any service records? — This will tell you if the vehicle owner has been taking the car to the mechanic, repairing it, and keeping it in good shape. Not everyone keeps records, but the people who do are the ones who will take good care of their car—meaning they’re the ones you want to buy from.
  4. Why are you selling the car? – This question can help you gauge what sort of person the owner is, as well as why they’re trying to get rid of the car. If they hem and haw and come up with an evasive answer for this question, it may mean they’re trying to sell the car before it breaks down.
  5. Have you had a Vehicle History Report done? — You can find the history of a vehicle online, and it will tell you if the car has been in a collision or serious accidents. It’s a good way to know what condition the vehicle really is in.
  6. What’s the mileage? —  The higher the mileage, the more wear and tear the vehicle has sustained. A high-mileage vehicle isn’t guaranteed to break down, but it is more prone to damage.
  7. What did you use the car for? – A long-haul driver will put a lot more wear and tear on the car than someone who used it for daily school trips, but a car left sitting in a garage may need repairs.
  8. Can my mechanic inspect it? – This is just for you to be certain the car is in good working order and runs as advertised. A mechanic will usually be able to pinpoint basic car problems right away, as well as tell you which problems are more common with the make and model of vehicle you’re considering.
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