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If you’re on the lookout for a used vehicle, you know how overwhelming the search can be. You want something you can afford that looks decent and isn’t going to fall apart, and suddenly everyone and their nephew has advice on things you need to watch out for, and all mechanics and car salespeople suddenly seem like trickster elves all too eager to get into a haggling match. Take a breath. People find the right vehicle for themselves all the time. You can too. The following will look at a few key tips you might want to employ if you’re searching for a good used vehicle.

Talk To Insurance First

There are lots of things that influence your insurance rates, but things like your car make and model, as well as the color of it (yes, the color), can leave you paying more or less each month for insurance. It’s a good idea to talk to your insurance provider before you start searching so you can figure out if there are certain elements you want to stay away from to keep costs down.

While you’re at it, why not shop around and see what different insurance policies are available? Sometimes people get lucky and search for insurance providers at the right time to get a fantastic deal. Oh, and be sure to tell them if you’re working from home, even partially. Working from home means less driving, and this means lower insurance rates.

Know What You Can Spend

Once you’ve gotten a look at your insurance options, it’s time to look at your financial situation more broadly. Before you start your search, you want to know how much you can spend. This should include calculations about how much you expect to drive and the maintenance and gas costs you’re likely to accrue as a result. You want to ensure that you can afford the car you’re buying not just on the lot but in the months and years that follow.

Be incredibly wary of loans with interest. Cars lose value quickly, and you don’t want to be stuck paying for a car that you’re not even driving any more years from now when the vehicle you choose has reached the end of its life.

Know What You Can Fix

Many people who seek out used cars don’t mind doing a little work themselves on the vehicles. If the car you’re looking at has a problem that you’ve fixed before, it’s probably fine. If you’ve never done this kind of work and are just expecting yourself to figure it out, pause for a minute. Vehicles, when operated properly and well-maintained, are relatively safe. Vehicles that are poorly maintained can become incredibly dangerous. Don’t plan on doing any work on the vehicle you purchase unless you are very confident you’re capable of doing the work.

Seek Certifications When Possible

Many used vehicles come with certain assurances. Look for the ones that suit you and your needs. Oftentimes a manufacturer will certify used vehicles marking them as approved for resale and safe for driving. Each certification process is going to look a little different, but you should be able to find a clear breakdown of the elements a given certification examines and what this means for the vehicle in question; Toyota-certified used vehicles, for instance, undergo a 160-point check up and need to meet specific mileage requirements. Certification can often help you rest assured that a vehicle has been examined by a professional and is road ready.

Learn About Mileage

No matter what car you’re considering, you need to be able to fuel it if you want to drive it. With gas prices rising, more people than ever are focusing on gas mileage and vehicles that can get them from point A to point B for less money. Typically, you can find good summaries of mileage online when you look up a particular model.

Know What You Don’t Know

When buying a used vehicle, there are a ton of different options. You can buy from a dealership, a car lot that specializes in all different models and makes of used cars or from individuals making a private sale. It’s very important that you understand what information isn’t being shared with you from any of these locations. You might even want to speak to a third-party mechanic beforehand, asking about which questions you need to ask depending on the vehicle. Some types of cars are known to need certain parts replaced more quickly than others. When you go to look at the car or test drive it, you’ll be prepared to ask questions about when different aspects of the vehicle were last checked up, replaced, or repaired.

Be Wary Of Mould Or Mildew Smells

There are a lot of reasons the inside of a car can smell bad. Some people smoke while they drive; others eat really stinky food while pulled over at a gas station. Most smells can be gotten rid of, but you need to be especially wary of any scents that indicate mold or mildew. This could hint at water damage to the vehicle, which could be far more serious than you realize. Beyond this, mold is terrible for your health and should never be breathed in. Mold multiplies by releasing spores into the air. These spores cause a ton of different respiratory conditions and can even shorten your life expectancy if you’re exposed to them for too long.

Take A Longer Test Drive

Often people test drive vehicles for only a short time. Every car is communicative if it’s given the opportunity. You want to expand your test drive to include not just smooth roads beside the dealership but the bumpier roads on the outskirts of town. You want to feel the car as it revs up to merge on the highway and as it careens around steep curves. You want to drive on hills and at slow speeds in grocery store parking lots. Give the vehicle enough time and variety so that it can express any oddities or issues to you upfront.

The above information should have given you a sense of what you need to look out for when you’re shopping for a used car. It’s important to understand that the search might take longer than you’d initially hoped. It’s easy to get fed up with the length of the process and hurry into a purchase that isn’t right for you. Like all other big purchases, you need to make the decision about which vehicle you’re going to buy with a clear head.