Cars are expensive, but most of us rely on them. If you’re looking to buy a new car and have a budget to stick to, a used car is probably your best option. There are a lot of things to consider before handing any money over for a second-hand car, so take a look at this guide from PassSmart, to ensure you’re spending your money wisely.

Buy from a reputable dealer

Although private sellers may offer lower prices, it’s a good idea to buy from a trusted dealer instead. If something was to go wrong with the car you may not have the same protection with a private seller as you would with a dealer. Find out what rights you have by checking your state’s consumer and lemon laws.

Do your research and shop around. Find out what the dealer’s reputation is like from previous customers, and be safe in the knowledge that you’ve made the right choice.

Take it for a test drive

You should never buy any car without taking it for a test drive first. Not only does a test drive flag up any warning signs, but it also helps you get a feel for the vehicle. You might not like the layout or you might find it uncomfortable to drive. There are a number of reasons why a test drive might put you off a car, so make sure you take it for one!

What’s under the bonnet?

You may not know your way around a car engine, but it’s vital that you give the car a full and thorough check before buying it. Consider taking someone who knows what to look out for with you, or pay for a mechanic to do an assessment. Although this will cost you extra, it’s definitely worth doing for peace of mind. Think of it as spending money in the short-term to protect your pennies in the long-term.

Emissions test

Many states in the US have emission laws which your car must pass in order to be road legal. The emission test usually costs around $50, and you should make sure a car has one before buying it. This could save you money and time n the long run.

Run a vehicle history check

It’s not just the technical side of things you need to take a look at. Ask to see the vehicle’s service documents, and also its warranty if there is one. You should also run a vehicle history check online. This will tell you if the car has ever been in an accident, stolen, or failed an inspection.

You can run a vehicle history report at


Avoid cars with high mileage, even if they are significantly cheaper. They’re much more likely to fail on you, and you could find yourself stuck with a useless old car on your hands!


Don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions. If the dealer seems unwilling to answer them, go elsewhere. Don’t feel rushed into making a decision, there will be plenty more used cars out there!

This is a guest post written by Izzy Guarella from; a British company specializing in helping learner drivers get the very best training.

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