Image: Morguefile.comIt’s always chancy when you want to buy a used car. You don’t always know the condition of the car, how the owner treated it, or how well it was taken care of.

But in spite of these unknowns, there are ways for you to find out more about the car you’re interested in buying to discover if it’s a lemon or not.

One easy way is to copy down the VIN (vehicle identification number) and run it through a car history service such as CarFax.com. The report will show the car’s title information, how many accidents occurred to the vehicle, the odometer mileage, where the car title originated from, and whether the vehicle was used as a taxi.

Flood States

If you live in a part of the country where flooding is common or you want to buy a car that is located in a flood state, be extra careful about water damaged vehicles. Water damaged cars may be indistinguishable from non-flood cars, but there are certain tip-offs.

Check under the floor mats to see if there are any telltale signs of silt or mud. If there is an odd odor that permeates the vehicle, beware—it may be a flooded vehicle. Look under the hood and in the trunk to see if there are any dirty waterlines.

You want to avoid flooded/water damaged vehicles because hidden problems such as rust, shorted out electrical systems, and engine damage can and will occur. These cars are lemons so avoid them.

Check Maintenance Records

It’s very rare for owners of cars to have thorough maintenance records. But at the very least, three should be documentation on performed scheduled oil changes, and any repair work done on the car over the years. If the seller can’t even produce records of recent oil changes, you may want to pass on the deal for a better car

Is It a Lemon Already?

Certain cars leave the manufacturer as lemons. After a year’s worth of data collection by consumer magazines, such as Consumer Reports, owners send in their experiences on  how reliable their cars are. The ones with the worst repair records are the cars to avoid.

Check car magazines, Internet sites, and Consumer Reports on cars you should stay away from. This will save you time and money by not looking at these lemons and steering away from them.

The Light of Day

If you are going to inspect a used car, always try to set the appointment during the daytime where there is lots of light to view the vehicle. Daylight viewing reveals a cars faults, which show up as imperfections in the car’s body, its paint, and other areas.

Source: MSN Autos

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