Consumer Reports: How to protect yourself when buying a used car

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- In the market for a used car? In a partnership with Consumer Reports, Seven on Your Side's Michael Finney has tips for you.

Used car salesman tactics have been the butt of jokes for years, and chances are you've probably heard some horror stories. But do not let that stop you from buying a used car. Consumer Reports has some great tips to help protect you from buying a dud. Plus, some of these tips can also come in handy if you're buying a new car.

Getting your money's worth when buying a used car can be a challenge, especially around pushy sales people.

Consumer Reports has compiled a checklist of what you need to do walking into a dealership.

Jon Linkov is an Auto Editor for Consumer Reports. "Understand going in that salesmen will try to take advantage of information you give them - like how much you can afford, or if you're in a rush to buy. So never reveal anything," he said.

Do your research. Look for reliability ratings from sources like Consumer Reports' Used-Car Marketplace. And find the true value of the car you want to buy by checking the condition, mileage, age, and equipment levels.

But do not rely on dealers for that information. Get a car report through Car Fax or auto-check online tools, which can help alert you to possible odometer fraud or damage - or if a re-built or salvage title was ever issued. To make sure no fraud or crime is associated with the car, run the VIN through the National Insurance Crime Bureau.

And do not forget to check for recalls. Safer Car or Consumer Reports' Car Repair will tell you if there are any safety-related defects or problems.

"Once you've done your homework, state your price. If the seller will not budge, do not be afraid to walk away. You'll see how quickly you'll be given a price you can live with," Linkov said.

Lastly, before you sign the contract, take the car to a certified mechanic. Not just an oil change shop. It's worth shelling out the $100 or so, it will cost for an inspection.

If the car needs repairs after you get it inspected, Consumer Reports says don't be afraid to demand the seller deduct the price of repairs from your offer.

All Consumer Reports material Copyright 2017 Consumer Reports, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Consumer Reports is a not-for-profit organization which accepts no advertising. It has no commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor on this site. For more information visit
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