Used cars cost more than ever. Here’s how to avoid getting a bad deal

For even deeper historical analysis, David Paris points out that it helps to have an expert mechanic nearby. “They have equipment that can help identify problems, as well as years of experience in and around various makes and models. They likely have the computer that can check vehicle modules for mileage discrepancies or previous deployment of airbags, as well as access to elevators to examine the underside in greater detail,” he says.

Putting the car up in the air will allow a much better view of any scuffs, dents, corrosion, or missing trim pieces along the undercarriage. many garages provide pre-purchase inspections for about $200. It’s not exactly cheap, but it’s better than buying a car with unknown problems. “Some repairs can be undetectable to the untrained eye, which is why getting an expert opinion is so important,” he says. Most used car dealers will let you take the car in for inspection or bring a mechanic to the dealer’s home or business. If they don’t accept an inspection, that’s another red flag.

In general, just because a car was in an accident and was repaired, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t buy it, provided the damage has been reported through the correct channels and has been repaired according to the manufacturer’s specifications. Damage and repairs that go unrecorded should raise more suspicion, especially when they appear alongside other signs of neglect. As a general rule, an obvious repair is a low-quality repair, and high-quality work will be nearly invisible.

“Seek the opinion of your trusted mechanic. Many incidents are very small, it could be something as simple as a scratch on the side of the vehicle that has been repaired,” says Paris. “From a valuation standpoint, if a deal seems too good to be true, it could be. In the current climate, used vehicles are scarce and good examples are selling for a premium compared to previous years. There are more demand than supply on the used market, so make sure you have a trained set of eyes to look at the vehicle before making a decision.

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