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How To Search For A Used Car Like You Know What You're Doing

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Entering the used car sales market as a buyer can help you get some good deals, but you need to know what you're looking for and be realistic about what you're getting into. Most vehicles have at least three owners in their lifetime, and some of the best ones, like the mid-1990s Toyota Camry, can survive for hundreds of thousands of miles of travel. Knowing these four tips will serve you well as you hunt for a ride that's right for you.

Know the VIN

The Vehicle Identification Number, more commonly called the VIN, uniquely identifies a car and also encodes an insane amount of information about it. There are a number of online VIN decoders that can tell you everything down to the manufacture date of a car and what plant it was assembled at. You'll also need the VIN number in order to acquire insurance for your car, and it can be entered into vehicle history systems like Carfax in order to get detailed service records.

Wheel Wells and Rockers

When checking out a used car, one of the first places you will likely run into trouble is the bottom of the car, especially where dirt and road salt like to collect. Stick a finger into the wheel wells and feel around for anything that seems flaky. You should also check the rocker panels on the bottom, just below the front doors. The presence of rust isn't necessarily a deal-breaker, but you should insist on paying less given that the car might need to be fixed.


Taking a look at the remaining tread depth on the tires of a car can save you hundreds of dollars. A simple trick to try is pulling out a penny and inserting it upside-down into the grooves of the tread. If the raised rubber comes close to Abe Lincoln's eyebrows, then you likely will not have to buy new tires for a couple years. On the flip side, if the rubber does not cover Honest Abe's hair, then there is a good chance the tread depth would not pass inspection in most states that require it.

Total Cost of Ownership

During the purchasing process, you should think about the total cost of owning a car. For example, paying more for a fuel-efficient ride will likely pay off within four years if you expect to drive more than 15,000 miles a year.

For more information, contact a used car dealer such as Car Craft Auto Sales, Inc. today.