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Finding a used car that won’t break down on you isn’t a matter of luck; it takes patience and investigation. Doing good research and using your investigative skills will help you find a quality used car that won’t give you headaches in the future. Knowing what to look for when buying a used car is the first step. Use these tips while on the hunt, and don’t make rookie mistakes.

Do Your Homework

Check trusted resources such as consumer reports before starting your search. Find out what cars are reliable and have good resale value. You don’t want to buy a car that has factory recalls or is known to run into issues. Only target cars or trucks that have a good safety rating and don’t have a laundry list of performance problems. Read as much as you can from a variety of sources so you can put together a complete picture.

Read the Sticker

The Federal Trade Commission requires dealers to post a buyer’s guide in every used car, which is usually attached to the rear window. It must have certain information, including if the vehicle has a warranty or is being sold “as is” and what percentage of repairs a dealer is responsible for. The information in the guide supersedes any contrary provision in the sales contract. If it is written on the guide, the dealer must honor it no matter what. Read that in its entirety and take a picture of it for use later.

Check the Exterior

Don’t let the salesman distract you from checking out the car. Look it over inside and out. When checking the exterior, look for rust and dents—no matter how small. Check all the lights and signals to make sure they are working. Further, lean on all four corners of the car to check the suspension; if the car bobs and doesn’t settle immediately, the suspension is shot. Check the wear on the tires too. They should be evenly worn down and have at least an inch of tread on them.

Check Under the Hood

Even if you don’t know anything about engines, lift the hood and take a look. Look to see how dirty the engine is and if the fluids are topped off. Squeeze all the hoses and check the belts. The hoses should be firm and supple, not rock hard or cracked. Start the engine and listen for knocks or whining. Additionally, look for oil that might be covering the engine too; this indicates there is a leak somewhere.

Look Underneath

Get on your belly and look under the car. Check for spots from a leak in the oil pan or transmission. You’ll also want to see if anything plastic is broken toward the front. This is a sign that the car went off-road or was in an accident of some kind. RNR Tire Express’s tire stores in Charleston, SC, are home to great-looking wheels and quality tires. Check out our line up and come in to get new shoes for your car or truck.

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