Charlotte Miller

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What can you do to make sure that you’re making the right decision when it comes to buying a used car? After all, the last thing you want to do is buy a clunker that will cost you more in repairs than it did when you bought it. To help ensure that your used car doesn’t end up being an expensive mistake, take these steps before buying your next used cars in Sacramento.

Step 1: Test Drive

Driving a car is, of course, much different than simply examining its exterior. If you’re buying an older used car, make sure you take it out for a good test drive. It doesn’t have to be extensive; just drive it around your neighborhood and see how it performs. Look for unusual sounds or vibrations that seem abnormal. Be sure to listen carefully while you step on the brakes—there should be no squealing or grinding at all.

Step 2: Check the Tires

The first thing you want to do is check your tires. Overinflated tires can be dangerous, so pull out your tire gauge and pop off each one. If any of them are overinflated by more than 10 PSI, add air until they reach that sweet spot. Next, take a look at their treads. Now’s the time to make sure they’re not too deep—and that there aren’t any visible tears. Also, make sure there aren’t any nails or other objects stuck in your rubber. (If there are, get rid of ’em.) Once everything checks out here, go ahead and move on!

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Step 3: Check under the Hood

Most people know that used cars in Sacramento aren’t supposed to have any glaring mechanical issues when you purchase them, but it’s good practice to check for yourself anyway. If you know your way around an engine, get under your car and examine everything from belts and hoses to spark plugs and cylinders. If you don’t know what each piece is supposed to look like, take it into your local service center for a comprehensive visual inspection.

Step 4: Give it a Thorough Vacuum.

If you’re buying from an individual or small dealership, check for papers, trash, and other random items under both front seats. If you see something of note, ask about it (you don’t want to be surprised when you get home). Also, make sure your hands get an up-close inspection: Look closely at your fingernails—are they dirty? Cracked? Longer than necessary?

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Step 5: Look for Cracks in the Exterior Paint

Look for chips, cracks, and other dings in your potential car’s paint. Small scrapes can be buffed out; larger dents might mean there’s hidden rust underneath. If you spot any serious damage, walk away from that car. No matter how cheap it is, you won’t get your money back on repairs. Instead of inspecting your potential car’s exterior paint yourself, consider paying an auto detailing shop for around $150 for a complete vehicle inspection.