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Tips for buying a used car

I need to buy a car under 5000. I don’t want it to break down and I don’t know anyone who knows about cars. ANy tips on things to look for when i go to look at cars?

You’ll Probably Need To Look At Cars Under $4500. I’m Sure Any Car At That Price Level Will Need A Little $-TLC-$.

Save the $500 for needed maintenance/repairs. Almost everyone here will tell you to pay a competent mechanic to check out a potential car before you buy.


Even a brand new car is going to break down. So keep your expectations reasonable. As mentioned, budget for repairs and have the car thoroughly checked BEFORE you buy.

thanks…how do i get it checked out before I buy it?

Search Car Talk Discussions For Help. We Get This Topic Quite A Bit,

Here’s a link to one we wre working on earlier today:


Call or stop by local repair shop, Not tire or trans shop and no quick lubes and ask how much to check out car.
Before you take car to them find out as much info as you can.

Pay a good local mechanic to do a pre-purchase inspection. It will cost you some money, but it’s worth it to make sure no major problems are lurking.

Once per year, Consumer Reports has an issue with reliability ratings of all used cars, so you should find that and check it out.

If it’s a private sale, try to get the maintenance records. Proper maintenance is definitely a factor in the reliability of an older car.

You could get a Carfax report, but keep in mind that those reports tend to be incomplete.

Do you know a good mechanic? If not, ask friends, neighbors, coworkers, and family who they like. If you find a few that many like, talk to them about a pre-purchase inspection. See what they do and how much it costs. Then decide who will do your inspections.

You might also pay attention to how old the seller is. Older is better often. Retired folks don’t commute and often have low mileage, well cared for cars. While I’m not retired, I do take care of my car. A friend from out of town rod in it last week and commented on how nice my new car looked - twice. I said both times that it’s a 2005 with over 50,000 miles on it.