Whether you buy a used car from a dealer, a co-worker, or a neighbor, follow these tips to learn as much as you can about the car:

  1. Examine the car yourself using an inspection checklist. You can find a checklist in many of the magazine articles, books and Internet sites that deal with buying a used car.
  2. Test drive the car under varied road conditions - on hills, highways, and in stop-and-go traffic.
  3. Ask for the car's maintenance record. If the owner doesn't have copies, contact the dealership or repair shop where most of the work was done. They may share their files with you.
  4. Talk to the previous owner, especially if the present owner is unfamiliar with the car's history.
  5. Have the car inspected by a mechanic you hire.