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Things to Be Aware of When Buying a Used Car

Michael Jones

Auto Loan Expert

Buying a used car can seem intimidating to many people. It just seems like there are so many things that can go wrong, from a bad experience with the seller, problems with the car itself, to difficulty getting the best loan rates for used cars. However, by breaking down and understanding the different things that can go wrong when buying a used car, buyers can see that the process is manageable, and not as scary as it first seemed.

Mechanical Issues

The first thing that you should be beware of when buying a used car is mechanical issues. Mechanical issues are problems with the engine or transmission, the systems that make the car go. These are often the most expensive issues, and can be some of the most difficult to spot.

Engine issues in a new car can cover a wide range of things. The best way to make sure that you’re not going to encounter any engine issues with the used car you are looking at is to have it checked out by a third-party mechanic that you trust. This may cost some money, but it is far better to spend $100 to avoid buying a car that will need a $3000 head gasket in three months. If you don’t have the option or money to spend on a mechanic, the next best way to discover engine problems is during the test drive. Make sure that you have the radio off and that no one in the car is talking for a period of time while you are on both surface streets and the freeway. Listen for unexpected changes in the noise the engine makes, and be aware of unusual smells, as these are signs that the engine is experiencing difficulties.

Transmission problems are also best detected by a third party mechanic. Even with the lowest used car loan rates, replacing a transmission will dramatically increase the amount of money you spend on your car, and potentially cost you the ability to drive. As with the engine, test drives are another good screen for transmission issues. Listen for loud thumps or clanks when the car is transitioning between gears, if it’s an automatic, and when you’re changing gears if it’s a manual. Smooth gear changes are a good indication that the car has been cared for and the transmission will last long enough to justify paying the sometimes outrageous used car auto loan rates required to buy a used car.

Things to Be Aware of When Buying a Used Car

Cosmetic Issues

Another thing to look out for when you’re buying a used car are cosmetic issues. These are problems that don’t affect the performance of the car, but can affect the way it looks. After all, how you feel about your car affects how you feel about yourself, so having a car that looks as good as you want to feel is important to living the life you want.

Used car buyers should check the interior and exterior of the car for signs of damage or neglect. This includes scrapes, dents, stains, tears, and rips. Buyers should pay special attention to rust spots, as if rust was able to grow on one part of the car, it may have grown in other places as well. As a result, rust is a cosmetic issue that could be a sign of a mechanical issue to come.

Financial Issues

The last thing that causes people to worry about buying a used car are the different financial issues that can come up. Buying any car is expensive, and even the best used car auto loans will put a dent in your budget. There are a couple of tricks you can use to head off any financial issues though.

The first is to be aware of how much your interest rates will cost. Lenders will frequently give better rates on newer cars because the car is less of a risk of the bank. This means that buying a more expensive and newer used car can actually save more money than buying a cheaper, older used car with a higher interest rate. Buyers can also shop around, and should talk to their bank. Credit union used car loan rates are usually lower than those at regular banks, for example.


As you can see, buying a used car doesn’t have to be scary. Knowing what you’re looking for is the key to getting the best value possible on your used car purchase.