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Finding Good Cheap Cars Online - Part 2

Purchasing second hand? Research the vehicle history (Continued)
Before you buy used, you'll want to consider and research the following:

Is there a history of accidents?

How many previous owners has the car had?

Are there any recalls on the model? If so, has the previous owner or owners had those recalls fixed?

Is the current seller legally allowed to sell the vehicle? (.e.g., does he/she have own the title)

Can you legally purchase that car in your state?

Some of these questions may not seem that intuitive. Let's look at each one.

Accident history, recalls, ownership, and legality
When a vehicle has been in an accident, its VIN gets recorded by the shop or dealership making the fix. That information is uploaded to a general database that most vehicle shops can access to look up that history. That history will include whether the vehicle has been taken in to get fixed for recalls.

The VIN, which is found right under the windshield, is also used to track a vehicle's ownership history. If you research the VIN, you can also discover whether there have been reports of theft. Buying a stolen car is always a bad idea.

You can also use the VIN to discover other information, such as:

Previous owners
Previous use as a taxi
Whether the vehicle was ever branded a lemon
Estimated miles driven
Warranty information

Two great websites that will help your research are:


Both of these websites/services have free information, and you can pay a small fee to get the full history of the vehicle. It's a good idea that, once you whittle down your list of potential vehicles, you do a full history check. If you're buying a new vehicle, this won't be necessary, but if you're going to purchase second hand, you may want to follow this process. In some cases, the dealer may do this for you upon request. If you're buying from a third party, caution is your best choice.

Most Importantly: Don't settle on your first choice
Expect the seller to push the deal on you. If you can, go to the dealership or seller with a friend. Also, be willing to walk if you believe the seller is trying to push you too hard on finalizing a deal you aren't comfortable making.

Sometimes, just the threat of you walking is enough to get them to make the best deal possible. If the seller is unwilling to negotiate, don't feel pressured. There are many other options out there, so try not to "fall in love" before you buy!