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Shopping for a Used Car

Car Tips

  • Get an idea of the types of cars you’re interested in and whether they fit in your budget before you head to the lot. Consumer Reports  publishes price and reliability information about cars online and in its annual used car edition, which is available at libraries.
  • Shop at dealers with good reputations with the BBB.
  • Always test drive cars on various road conditions, such as up hills, on highways and in stop-and-go traffic. Look each car over during daylight hours to spot any signs of damage or water marks. Sniff for mildew, which could indicate flood damage.
  • Always negotiate on the total cost of the car. It’s too easy to get confused about what you’re spending if you negotiate based on payments. And negotiate one thing at a time – for example, agree on the car’s price before you start talking about the value of a trade-in.
  • Search the VIN (the unique vehicle ID number) at to make sure the car has no open recalls. Consider paying a small fee to find check the car’s title, odometer and damage history through
  •  If you find a car you like, insist on taking the car to an independent mechanic for an inspection BEFORE you agree to buy. An independent inspection lets you know the true condition of the vehicle so you can buy with confidence, walk away or negotiate for repairs.

  • AS IS” means YOU will pay the costs for all repairs if problems are detected after you leave the lot. That’s why the mechanic inspection is so important.
  • In Ohio, you do NOT have a 3-day right to cancel a car deal. Ohio’s Lemon Law does NOT cover used cars. Once you sign on the dotted line, the car is yours.

The Department of Consumer Affairs’ mission is to make sure people who live or shop in Cuyahoga County get what they pay for.