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Buying a used Car

Before signing a contract or purchasing a used car, you should do the following:

Take your time to read and understand the entire written agreement.
Ask questions. Don't sign unless you are satisfied with the answers.
Be sure that all blank spaces are filled in, that all of the salesperson's verbal promises are included, and that the type of warranty that comes with the car is spelled out.
If you are required to make a deposit, ask whether it is refundable, and under what circumstances, and make sure the information is also included in the contract.
Be sure to get a signed statement verifying the mileage at the time of sale. Most state laws require dealers of used cars to provide the buyer with this information in writing.
Know your state's requirements concerning emissions inspections; certified state auto inspections; child safety, seat belt, and airbag requirements; and title transfers.
Buying a used vehicle can be a rewarding experience but always remember, "when in doubt, check it out!"

Before purchasing any used car, be aware of the following:

Inspect the car in daylight and good weather. Bring someone you trust along to help you make a thorough appraisal;
Don't expect perfection in a used car. Compromise on minor problems you can fix yourself, but don't overlook serious defects;
Make safety a major priority. Older vehicles may not be equipped with airbags, child safety seats, seat belts, anti-lock brakes or security systems. Determine your locality's vehicle safety requirements for cars, mini-vans, recreational and sport-utility vehicles and other vehicles before you buy;
Road test before you commit to buy. If you are not allowed to test drive the car, do not buy it.
Have a Trusted Mechanic Thoroughly inspect the car before you purchase it.
To learn more about used car issues, contact the following:
Your Local BBB
National Automobile Dealers Association, at 703.821.7000
Federal trade commission at 202.382.4357
Kelly Blue Book

In addition, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) operates a toll-free hotline 800.424.9393 and a page on the Internet (, through which you can find out if a particular vehicle has ever been recalled for safety defects.
* If you find any of the web sites listed above to be inactive, please contact the respective organization. Also, be aware that the above phone numbers may be subject to change without notice.

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