Smart tips for purchasing a used car

Car shoppers know that a new car depreciates by as much as 20 percent the moment it leaves the dealer's lot. Buying pre-owned vehicles can mean big savings because the first owner took that initial depreciation hit.

That is why so many bargain hunters prefer pre-owned vehicles-but for some, buying a used car can feel like a bit of a gamble.

"Buying a used car is very nerve-wracking," says used car shopper Jon Spetrino. "Just to find the right car and make sure it has the miles it says it has on it, and that it's a safe vehicle-it's very tough,"

Jon is not alone. No one wants to inherit someone else's problems., creator of the vehicle history report, and Edmunds. com, the first company to provide consumer automotive information on the Internet, are two Web sites that are trying to alleviate those fears by helping shoppers make better decisions.

"The Internet has become a wonderful tool for consumers in recent years to go out and shop, and research used cars. They can compare different models, get performance ratings and check the vehicle's history before they put down their hard-earned money on a used vehicle," says Scott Fredericks, Vice President of Carfax.

Karl Brauer, Editor-in-Chief for Edmunds says, "At Edmunds. com, you can research the True Market Value prices of vehicles and learn which used vehicles are recommended as our Best Bet picks."

Consumers can visit Edmunds. com to view the complete Best Bets list and other automotive insight at no charge. Brauer also recommends going to for a detailed Vehicle History Report. For a nominal fee, Carfax can help consumers avoid hidden problems like rebuilt wrecks and odometer fraud.

Both and Carfax recommend doing research before making a car purchase as well as following these suggestions:

• Take Advantage-Get a free Carfax Vehicle History Report by asking for one from the dealer or visiting and using their "Find a Car" feature.

• Do Your Homework-Check resources like's True Market Value pricing, "Used Car Best Bets" list and other shopping advice to become an empowered, informed customer.

• Get in the driver's seat-Examine the cars inside and out, then take them for thorough test drives trying a variety of road types and conditions at various speeds, if possible.

• Visit a pro-Always get a pre-purchase vehicle inspection from a qualified and trustworthy mechanic.

Consumers aren't the only ones who benefit from Carfax, according to auto dealer Ken Shepherd. "We don't want to be fooled anymore. We offer it, customers ask for it, and it's a real help in selling the vehicle and putting customers, you know, at ease about buying a used vehicle," says Shepherd.

If you are buying a used car, you may be able to get a detailed history on the Internet.

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