Tips for Buying a Used Car. The Federal Trade Commission suggests the following:

  1. Check out the car’s repair record, maintenance costs, and safety and mileage ratings in consumer magazines or online. Look up the "blue book" value, and be prepared to negotiate the price.
  2. Buying from a dealer? Look for the Buyers Guide. It’s required by a federal regulation called the Used Car Rule.
  3. Make sure all oral promises are written into the Buyers Guide.
  4. You have the right to see a copy of the dealer’s warranty before you buy.
  5. Warranties are included in the price of the product; service contracts cost extra and are sold separately.
  6. Ask for the car’s maintenance record from the owner, dealer, or repair shop.
  7. Test drive the car on hills, highways, and in stop-and-go traffic.
  8. Have the car inspected by a mechanic you hire.
  9. Check out the dealer with local consumer protection officials.
  10. If you buy a car "as is," you’ll have to pay for anything that goes wrong after the sale.
  11. The Used Car Rule generally doesn’t apply to private sales.