By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Don't get snookered on a used car
Save money
Placeholder Image
Buying a used car doesn’t have to be an anxiety-ridden experience, but it does require diligence on your part to make sure of what you’re getting.
Here are things to watch out for if you’re in the market to buy a used car:
• Buy from a licensed dealer. While you can get a good deal from an individual seller, you have more protections and recourse with a dealer.
• Look at the title. A number of cases have been reported where a buyer will purchase a car, expecting that the dealer has taken care of any original loan, only to discover later that there’s a lien on the car and the bank wants its money. This is becoming more of a problem with small dealers that go out of business and don’t pay off liens.
• Learn to identify vehicles that have been in a wreck. Watch the airbag light. It should come on when you start the car and then go out. If it doesn’t, the airbag might have been deployed. Try all the moveable parts, like doors and trunk. Be sure they align. Check the paint in the daylight and look closely at trim and the edges of chrome. Peel back rubber seals. Take the car to a mechanic to be checked.
• Learn to identify vehicles that have been in a flood. Check the interior carefully. Does everything match the way it should or have some parts (seats, carpet) been replaced? Does everything work? Air bag lights, radio, window locks? Turn on the heater and see if there is a mildew smell. Check under the dash for wires that are no longer flexible. Arrange to have the car put on a lift and check the undercarriage with a flashlight and small handheld mirror to see areas that might have been missed in cleaning.
It can be worth your while to go online and find a site that will, for a fee, check the history of the car you want to buy. You could discover that the car has had multiple owners (a red flag), was in an accident and had a salvage title until it was rebuilt, was used as a rental vehicle or was auctioned off. While not foolproof, those reports can be valuable in giving you the history of a vehicle.

Uffington does not personally answer reader questions, but will incorporate them into his column whenever possible. Write to him in care of King Features Weekly Service, P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475, or send e-mail to
Sign up for our e-newsletters