What is the most important thing to think about when purchasing a used car?
Knowing the car's history - who had it, how was it taken care of. It is so easy to get a used car with huge hidden things wrong. Having a good mechanic go over it before purchase would be worth the fee.
If you are getting a used car I would research Consumer Reports and other sources. Find a car that is most reliable and maintains its value well. I have made the mistake in the past of not doing this and having cars that had major problems while I was still paying on them. Also, it seemed like I had to pay the entire loan off before there was any equity in the vehicle.
Not trying to steer you to Toyota, but we bought a 4runner 3 years ago. It had 90,000 miles on it at the time. It now has 170,000 miles and still going strong (with only normal repairs like brakes, replacing the timing belt, tune ups, etc.). On top of that, we paid full price at a used dealer, got a 4 year loan with a high interest rate, and 3 years in we have several thousand dollars of equity in the vehicle.
I learned the hard way what the most important thing is -- have a mechanic look at the car before the purchase or signing anything. Ask the seller if you can have your mechanic (one you trust) look over the vehicle. Make sure they and you check underneath for rust in the chassis, make sure the car runs smoothly, and know that the previous owners and their repairs have been well documented and archived by the seller. To the point, the most important components to the car are the engine, transmission, and chassis. Have a mechanic look over the potential purchase before any future steps are taken.
The most important thing to think about is the hidden damage of the used car you are planning to buy. There are used car dealers who sell their car away "as sis". But of course they won't tell you that you need to get the car a doctor. They would always say that they have the best cars!
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