Ten Top Tips For Buying A Used Car

The reward of getting a great deal on a used car's sometimes overshadowed by the reality that you've made a mistake. We polled our experienced readers and created this list of the ten top tips for buying a used car.

This is Answers of the Day - where we take the best ten responses from the previous day's "Question Of The Day". It's by you and for you, the Jalopnik readers.

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Ten Top Tips For Buying A Used Car

10.) Bring A Friend

Suggested By: Jedchef

The Reason: It's easy to get carried away in a moment of car-buying passion, but it's harder to get excited about someone else getting a great car. If Lincoln's right, you can't fool all of the people all of the time, so it helps to bring more people with you. An extra set of eyes always helps, and if you can't convince your friend the car is worth buying maybe it isn't.

Ten Top Tips For Buying A Used Car

9.) Beware Of Rust

Suggested By: Jokermanpaco

The Reason: Unlike a leaky valve cover or a bent rim, there's no easy and simple fix for serious rust penetration. It's a cancer on cars and, unless you've got a lot of time and equipment, it's not going to be an easy fix. Where there's a little rust, there's often a lot of rust, so if you see a little rust be ready to walk away.

Photo Credit: Jakub Niemcewicz

Ten Top Tips For Buying A Used Car

8.) Get The Car Inspected

Suggested By: ejp420

The Reason: If you're buying your eighth old Volvo station wagon, you can probably learn what you want to know about the car with a thorough visual inspection and a short drive. For the rest of us, an inspection by a qualified mechanic can turn up issues the seller might not even be aware of. Also, you're probably not good enough to do a compression test with your ears and eyes. It's best to only do this if you plan to actually purchase the car and as a last step.

Photo Credit: Murilee Martin

Ten Top Tips For Buying A Used Car

7.) Spend Enough Money

Suggested By: Powermatic

The Reason: The people who get in trouble buying a used car aren't the ones who spend too much money, it's typically the people who don't spend enough money. Someone parting with a nice, newer BMW for a cheap price isn't doing so out of charity. This goes back to the old saying: there's nothing more expensive than a cheap used luxury car.

Photo Credit: Murilee Martin

Ten Top Tips For Buying A Used Car

6.) Check All The Heating/Cooling

Suggested By: fastbird232

The Reason: When it's 100 degrees outside it may not be fun to check the heater, but if you live anywhere it gets cold you're going to want to know if that works. The inverse is also true. When it's freezing outside do your best to see of the A/C works.

Ten Top Tips For Buying A Used Car

5.) Read The Car Reviews

Suggested By: Charlie.Savas

The Reason: Car reviews aren't just for new cars. If you're buying a car built in the last 15 years it shouldn't be hard to find a review of the models you're looking at buying. You may have forgotten the difference between an 03' and 04' model, but somewhere there's a review explaining why you don't want one of them. Having this knowledge, you'd know which recent WRX is great and which one is a dud.

Ten Top Tips For Buying A Used Car

4.) Look Under The Trunk Lining

Suggested By: Bailfire

The Reason: The space underneath a car's trunk-lining reveals many secrets. By peeling back the ruber lining you can see if the car's been in a rear-end accident or if there are signs of water penetration from a flood. Also, the condition of the spare tire and any tools give some indication of the way the car's been treated.

Photo Credit: Murilee Martin

Ten Top Tips For Buying A Used Car

3.) Drive A Similar Car

Suggested By: Tomcatt

The Reason: This seems so obvious but it's easily forgotten. If you've never driven a 1995 BMW M3 don't buy one. One of the biggest mistakes people make — especially enthusiasts — is buying a car they think they want, only to find out it doesn't fit their needs. Either it's too slow, too loud, or too expensive to gas up. If the car's less than six years old you might be able to rent one. If not, see if you can borrow one from a friend.

Photo Credit: Kevin McCauley

Ten Top Tips For Buying A Used Car

2.) Value Treatment Over Reputation

Suggested By: Wunno Sev

The Reason: It's easy to get hung up on a car's reputation and choose something supposedly reliable that's actually a back of rusty crap. I love the Volvo 240 as a used car and, recently, encouraged a friend to buy one. Unfortunately, they started looking at some high-mileage, student-owned cars. No matter how much I love the car, a poorly-treated one isn't going to last as long as well-treated car from another automaker.

Ten Top Tips For Buying A Used Car

1.) Research, Research, Research

Suggested By: ghs235

The Reason: The best situation you can be in as a driver is knowing more than the seller. The more questions you can ask, the more reports on the car you have, the better price you're going to be able to ask. I went with my friend to buy a Volvo 240, armed with a vehicle history report and knowledge of the particular model. I was able to stump the owners (who were very nice) and the price was talked down by about 40%