Purchasing a used car can either be a great money saver or an incredibly expensive mistake depending on the vehicle selected.

Here are some tips on what to look for on the car and how to protect yourself in case of a problem.


Vehicle History Reports

Do not buy a used vehicle without a vehicle history report. With 10 years’ experience at appraising vehicles I would never consider placing a value on a used car without a VIN check and for somebody that looks at cars once every 3 or 4 years to is simply irresponsible. There are many services available for this to include Carfax, AutoCheck, and Instavin as common ones. Many DMV’s also will do limited history reports for free.

When using a service either purchase and use the report, or do not bother to look. When you put in the VIN for a “free” check it will often say “10 major events – click here to purchase full report”. Many people run at the 10 major events only to find it is listing oil changes or service records. When you find something significant look at the price of the vehicle – if it is $2000 less than all the other similar you saw that “something” has already been taken into account so it is less a matter of negotiation and more simply a decision at that point. If it is not reflected in the price I would tend to decline entirely than attempt to negotiate when the seller started in bad faith.

Drive the car

Drive the Car

Sounds crazy but I have seen endless people purchase vehicles without ever driving them. I do not care what the warranty is – drive the car before any decision. As part of the drive and looking through the vehicle there are some places you should pay extra attention.

Open every door, hood, and the trunk. Look carefully at seems and at the rubber molding around the doors. Even the best body work and paint jobs will leave tell-tale paint overspray or slight color match line in these areas to let you know of accidents not disclosed or found on vehicle history reports.



When discussing warranty the most common warranty is labour – they provide free labour but you pay for the parts. In this case clarify if they will allow you to provide the parts or if you must by the parts from them. Offering a labour warranty then marking up the price on parts is an unfortunately common practice.

Purchasing from reputable sources such as Exchange & Mart and adequate investigation before the purchase will make a safer and more enjoyable shopping experience to save you money now and in the future.