Things to be wary of when shopping for a used car

Shopping for a used car has gotten a bad reputation over the years. Images of unreliable cars and questionable loan practices may be enough to put squeamish first-time buyers off from heading to the dealership altogether. 

The reality is that choosing a pre-owned vehicle to buy doesn't have to be a major source of stress. There are plenty of tools available today for savvy shoppers to do their research so they can head to the lot with plenty of knowledge, ensuring they drive away with the best deal. 

Of course, preparedness is an important part of shopping for any major purchase, and a used car is no exception. As the old saying goes, "Let the buyer beware," but with these helpful car-shopping tips, you'll have little to fear when you start making your decision.

Go certified
In general, if you're shopping for a used car, there's no reason to not go the certified pre-owned route. These are vehicles that must meet a certain performance criterion by the manufacturer before they can be sold, which means that they receive thorough multi-point inspections before you drive off in one. Certified pre-owned vehicles often have extended manufacturer's warranties in addition to the dealer guarantee, giving you additional peace of mind.

The amount of extra money you tend to pay for a certified pre-owned vehicle is negligible compared to the potential headaches you'll save down the road. Just be wary of dealers that claim to sell certified pre-owned cars but actually don't. Remember that only a licensed manufacturer franchise can sell certified pre-owned vehicles. In other words, if you aren't on a franchised Volkswagen lot, for example, that certified pre-owned Jetta you're ey​eing probably isn't. 

Certified pre-owned vehicles give you extra peace of mind when you make a purchase. Certified pre-owned vehicles give you extra peace of mind when you make a purchase.

Keep your eye on the news
Recalls are a common enough occurrence in the automotive world that they aren't cause for any particular alarm bells when you hear of them in the news. But if you're shopping for a car, you should start paying attention to recall reports so you can compare them against the vehicles on offer at the dealership.

For example, ABC News reported that auto giant General Motors is currently on the receiving end of a U.S. Federal Trade Commission investigation. The company was accused of certifying pre-owned vehicles for sale on used car lots that were subject to factory recall. 

The news source went on to state that while selling a new car with an unfixed recall is illegal, there is currently no legislation similarly banning the sale of used cars with unaddressed issues. But just because this circumstance is legally defensible doesn't mean it's a situation you want to encounter when shopping for your car.

"Any major regional weather events can have implications on the quality of car you're getting."

Location, location, location
Believe it or not, the part of the country you live in may affect how you go about shopping for used cars. Specifically, any major regional weather events can have implications on the quality of car you're getting. 

One example from a local Texas ABC News affiliate cited the region's recent extreme rainfall and flooding as a concern for car buyers. The National Insurance Crime Bureau noted that around 10,000 cars had been water-damaged by flooding, and that some of those cars may potentially end up on used car lots. As a consumer, it falls to you to do your research into whatever vehicle stands out to you. Be sure to ask the dealer for any car's Carfax report and recent work history, as this will let you know if you're dealing with a car that may have had a run-in with the elements. 

When you're ready to purchase a high-quality used car, head to New Jersey State Auto Auction. You'll find hundreds of Carfax-certified cars on the lot, and a helpful staff to ensure you end up in the vehicle of your dreams.