Make sure you do your homework before buying a used car

Consumer Reports has compiled a checklist on what you should consider when purchasing a used car before walking into a dealership. 

Used car salesman tactics have been the butt of jokes for years, and chances are you’ve probably heard some horror stories. But don’t let that stop you from buying a used car.

Consumer Reports has some great tips to help protect you from buying a dud. And some of these tips can also come in handy if you’re buying a new car.

Do your research, look for reliability ratings from sources like Consumer Reports’ used car marketplace and find the true value of the car you want to buy by checking condition, mileage, age and equipment levels.

But don’t rely on dealers for that information. Get a car report through CarFax or Autocheck -- online tools which can help alert you to possible odometer fraud or damage -- or if a rebuilt or salvage title was ever issued.

To make sure no fraud or crime is associated with the car, run the VIN number through the National Insurance Crime Bureau.

And don’t forget to check for recalls. Safercar or Consumer Reports will tell you if there are any safety-related defects or problems.

Once you’ve done your homework, state your price. If the seller won’t budge, don’t be afraid to walk away. You’ll see how quickly you’ll be given a price you can live with.

Before you sign the contract, take the car to a certified mechanic, not just an oil change shop. It’s worth shelling out the $100 or so for an inspection.

And if the car needs repairs after you get it inspected, Consumer Reports says don’t be afraid to demand the seller deduct the price of repairs from your offer.

Get more tips from Consumer Reports here.

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