What is Salvage title? Buyer Tips

What to Check When Buying a Used Car?

By Mike Richards Updated: 06/28/2022 Posted: 07/26/2018

Are you looking for used cars for sale? Buying a used car can provide you with some great advantages. Namely, you will be able to save quite a bit of money. You will also find that there tend to be quite a few options available, making it easier to find exactly what you want from your next vehicle. However, when you are buying a used vehicle, there are certain things you need to check to make sure it will be worth your time and money.


Is It a Safe and Reliable Make and Model?

While you would hope people do not try to sell vehicles that have been recalled without having the proper repairs done on the first, you can never be too careful. You will want to check the makes and models you are considering and check against the NHTSA recall list to see if the vehicle has ever had any major problems.

In addition, it is a good idea to check some online reviews from people who already own the vehicle. What do they have to say about it? Does the vehicle have any issues that a number of people are bringing up and complaining about? If so, there is a chance that you could have the same problem with your car or truck, and you might want to look for a different option.


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The top safest car picks & winners by IIHS in 2017

NHTSA Vehicle Safety Ratings Chart


Toyota RAV45/54/55/54/5

Midsized SUVs

Honda Pilot5/54/55/54/5Hyundai Santa Fe (built after March 2016)

Midsize Luxury SUVs

Acura MDX5/55/55/54/5Acura RDX5/55/55/54/5Audi Q54/54/55/54/5Buick Envision5/54/55/54/5Lexus NX5/54/55/54/5Lexus RX5/54/55/54/5Mercedes-­Benz GLE-­ClassNANANA4/5Volvo XC605/55/55/54/5


Chrysler Pacifica (built after August 2016)


Small Cars





Chevrolet Volt 5/5 4/5 5/5 5/5
Hyundai Elantra (sedan only, built after March 2016)
Mazda3 5/5 5/5 5/5 4/5
Toyota Corolla 5/5 4/5 5/5 4/5
Toyota Prius (built after August 2016)
Midsized Cars
Honda Accord 4-­door 5/5 4/5 5/5 5/5
Mazda6 5/5 5/5 5/5 4/5
Nissan Altima 5/5 5/5 5/5 4/5
Nissan Maxima 5/5 5/5 5/5 5/5
Subaru Legacy 5/5 5/5 5/5 5/5
Subaru Outback 5/5 5/5 5/5 4/5
Toyota Camry 5/5 4/5 5/5 4/5
Toyota Prius V 5/5 4/5 5/5 4/5
Volkswagen Jetta 5/5 4/5 5/5 4/5
Midsized Luxury Cars
Volvo S60 5/5 5/5 5/5 5/5
Audi A4 5/5 4/5 5/5 5/5
Lexus ES 350 5/5 4/5 5/5 4/5
Large Luxury Cars
Genesis G80 5/5 5/5 5/5 5/5
Small SUVs
Mitsubishi Outlander 5/5 4/5 5/5 4/5
Nissan Rogue 4/5 4/5 5/5 4/5
Subaru Forester (built after October 2016)
Pickup Truck
Honda Ridgeline 5/5 5/5 5/5 4/5


Does It Have the Trim and Features You Want?

With so many different options for all of the makes and models when it comes to the trim and the features, it can be difficult to know whether you are buying the right vehicle unless you check the features carefully to make sure what is being advertised is what you are getting.

While it can be difficult to find exactly what you need, you can try. Buying online allows you to have a much wider search grid, so it is possible that you will find everything you have ever wanted in the used car for sale on that auction site.


What If You Are Buying a Used Car Online?

If you are buying a vehicle online, or you are buying from an auction, you will not have the ability to check out the car in person or take a test drive. However, this does not necessarily mean you should forget about buying online. It simply means you need to find some other ways to check out the vehicle.

Make sure you are dealing with a seller or auction site that is forthright and that will provide you with the information you need, such as info about the title and the VIN. Look at the mileage, check the basic condition of the vehicle, and see if there has been any damage to the vehicle that the seller is not telling you about. When you know and understand the history of the vehicle, you will have a better idea of whether the car is going to be worth the price they are asking.


5 Best Places To Shop For Used Cars For Sale

  1. Carvana.com – Carvana is the only place where you can buy a used car online and have it delivered to your home.
  2. Truecar.com – Get the TruePrice—the Actual Price You Will Pay at the Dealership.
  3. AutoAuctionMall.com – Thee largest used, salvage & insurance vehicle auction marketplace online. Bid on over 200,000 used cars for sale right now.
  4. Cars.com – Leading two-sided digital automotive marketplace that creates meaningful connections between buyers and sellers.
  5. Carguru.com – Building the world’s most trusted and transparent automotive marketplace. We make it easy to find great deals from top-rated dealers and provide the guidance consumers need to make a more informed purchase.


Always Check the Vehicle

used car for sale

Whether you buy a vehicle in person, or through an online site or auction, you will want to check the vehicle over thoroughly once you have it in your possession. Even if you know a lot about cars, you will want to consider taking it to a mechanic. He or she can inspect the vehicle and let you know if there are any issues or glaring errors that need to be addressed. Ideally, the vehicle will pass muster.

Once it has undergone an inspection, you still need to make sure you are taking proper care of your vehicle. This means proper and regular maintenance for things such as tire rotations, changes, and fluid changes. When you put in the work and are willing to take care of your used car, it last longer and has fewer problems.

Take your time when you are buying a used car. While there is always the fear that someone else might swoop in and buy the car you are considering, there is also the possibility that if you act recklessly and buy without researching that you get a vehicle that is not worth what you paid for it.