Research the reliability of car you are considering

Throughout the history of car manufacturing, many car companies have made models of cars that have a higher-than-normal number of mechanical problems. Such problems can range from minor electrical issues to major issues with the vehicle power train (i.e. engine, transmission). Unless these mechanical issues pose a safety risk, don't expect car manufacturers to publicly admit any engineering short-comings of select car models. The best you can do is to conduct an Internet search for the car make and model you are considering, accompanied with the words 'problems', 'mechanical issues', etc. If the make and model car you are seeking has a history of mechanical problems, you will be presented with many forums where owners have vented their frustrations. If you cannot find any such forums, this can be an indication that the make and model did not have any serious mechanical design flaws.

Get a vehicle history report for the used car

The more owners a car has, the less each new owner actually knows about its history. Throughout its useful life, a car can become damaged at the hands of men (i.e. accidents) or suffer the wrath of mother nature (i.e. flooding). Although it would be nice if every prior owner would fully disclose every bad thing that may have happened to their vehicles, one cannot count on it. In fact, an owner with the right knowledge (and wrong principles) may also choose to tamper with a vehicle's odometer before selling it - making it more appealing to an unsuspecting buyer. For these reasons you need to obtain a vehicle history report. A vehicle history report will let you know if the car has suffered any major damage from accidents or flooding. The vehicle's history report will also let you know how many times the car has changed owners, and the mileage reading on the odometer at the time of each sale.

How do I obtain a vehicle history report?

If you are buying the used car through an automotive dealer, they could very well have a vehicle history report to show you upon request. If you are thinking about buying a car from an individual, you may have to purchase the history report yourself. To obtain a vehicle history report, write down the car's vehicle identification number, or VIN. You can find the VIN of car by looking through the lower corner of the windshield from the outside of the car. Once you have the VIN number you can go to and purchase a report.

Remember, a car is a mechanical device, so just because a car did not have any documented issues, does not mean it will be problem-free for the foreseeable future. It is wise to ensure you have the means to pay for any unexpected repairs that may arise in the future (i.e. cash, credit cards). Depending on the age and mileage of the car, you may want to contemplate extended warranty coverage.