What you need to know before buying a used car - WDAM - TV 7 - News, Weather and Sports

What you need to know before buying a used car

New cars lose 20 percent of their value as soon as they're sold. That reason alone makes buying a used or pre-owned car something to consider. Our auto expert is here with what to look for when buying a car that's new to you.

If you're looking for a high-performance muscle car, Steve Strope is the man to see. He designs and builds award-winning street machines like this 1957 Chevy. But Steve's also the guy you want to talk to when you're in the market for a reliable used car.

Buying a used car always comes with risk, especially if you're buying from a private party. But by practicing some good "used car" due diligence, you can reduce those risks significantly.

One of the biggest issues when buying a used car is determining whether or not the vehicle's got body damage. Go to both sides of the car and look over them thoroughly to detect any body damage. Now keep in mind, most used cars will come with some nicks, dings or scratches. Only you can decide what is acceptable and what isn't.

You're going to want to inspect for drips and leaks on the ground twice. The first time is when you get there and the engine's cold and the second will be after the engine has been running.

With the engine running, open up the hood and listen for any tell-tale problem sounds like knocking, ticking or hissing. How do the belts and hoses look? Even grandma can spot cracked and dried up rubber.

Take a good look at all four tires. Make sure they're the same brand and size. Also check for any uneven wear or low tread depth.

Have the seller get in the car so you can stand outside and watch as he turns on the headlights, tail lights and brake lights so you can make sure they're all working.

Take the time to open and close all the windows and doors to make sure they work properly. Plus, check the locks from the inside and the outside with the keys.

If the car passes your initial inspection, next up is the test drive. Make sure all those creature comforts are working, such as the A/C, heater and stereo system.

Be sure to test drive the car the same way you'll be driving it if you buy it. If you do a lot of highway driving, make sure to test drive the car on the highway and see how the car feels.  If you do a lot of in-town driving, simulate that with some stopping, idling and acceleration.

Have your mechanic check all of the car's major components. If he gives you the thumbs up, you can rest assured that you've reduced the risks that come with buying a used car. Keeping you in the driver's seat!

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