Research key to buying used car

Websites assist with background checks

SAN ANTONIO – For those in the market for a used car, Consumer Reports says research is key to avoiding a bad deal or a dud of a car.

"Understand going in, that salesmen will try to take advantage of information you give them, like how much you can afford or if you're in a rush to buy," said Consumer Reports Auto Editor Jon Linkov. "So, never reveal anything."

Linkov offered a checklist of things you should do to protect your money.

Look for reliability ratings from sources like Consumer Reports’ used-car marketplace.

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Find the true value of the car you want to buy by checking condition, mileage, age, and equipment levels. But Consumer Reports suggests someone not rely on dealers for that information. Get a car report through CarFax or Autocheck -- online tools which can help alert you to possible odometer fraud or damage -- or if a rebuilt or salvage title was ever issued.

To make sure no fraud or crime is associated with the car,  run the VIN  through the National Insurance Crime Bureau.

And don’t forget to check for recalls. Both Safer Car and Consumer Reports will tell people if there are any safety-related defects or problems.

Once the perspective car buyer has done their homework, they need to state a price. If the seller won’t budge, the buyer shouldn’t be afraid to walk away.

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Before you sign the contract, take the car to a certified mechanic -- not just an oil change shop. It can be worth shelling out the $100 or so it’ll cost for an inspection.

If the car needs repairs after you get it inspected, Consumer Reports said don’t be afraid to demand the seller deduct the price of repairs from your offer.

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