How To Not Get Screwed Buying a Used Car
Adam Rifkin stashed this in Negotiation
What if you don't know anything about cars? Good news! Most reputable privately owned shops will offer what is called a pre-purchase inspection. An honest mechanic doesn't want you to waste your money any more than you do. Additionally if they have no interest in the sale they are a great unbiased resource. Depending on how thorough of an inspection you do the price can range but is usually less than $200 (maybe even as low as $50 if it's a basic inspection) and that money can save you thousands in the future. I have personally saved some customers from buying vehicles they were totally ready to sign for but would have ended up costing them thousands because they didn't know what to look for. Alternatively if everything looks great, you can rest easy and enjoy your new car.
Car buying can be emotional. You're excited, nervous, maybe scared. Having someone with no financial interest in the sale is worth every penny. Even though I've been around cars my whole life, I almost always bring a buddy or mechanic friend with me to make sure I'm not being stupid or missing something. The pre-purchase inspection is maybe one of the most under-utilized offerings of most mechanics shops, but can save a ton of heartache.