When it comes to used cars, it's wise to have a mechanic check it out before you buy. But while you're narrowing down the search, you can easily eliminate some vehicles if you know what you're looking for.
"You never know what you're going to find when you're looking for a used car. It looks like we've got a nest in this one," mechanic Bob Hendrix said.
Hendrix says he'd steer clear of the 2000 Dodge Stratus he was inspecting. It's not just the mouse nest in the trunk that's scary about it.
"Rodents can do a lot of damage in cars. They chew through wiring, cause a lot of problems," Hendrix said.
From rodents to floods, if you know what to look out for, you can save a lot of headaches later on.
"There are a lot of cars from the recent hurricane on the East Coast and they'll be hitting auto auctions and repair shops. You want to steer clear of a flood car,” Hendrix said.
Hendrix, who teaches the Community Education class "Used Car Buying 101," says don't be afraid to dig around in the trunk a bit.
"Flood water is corrosive and a lot of times contains sewage. What happens is it gets into nooks and crannies in the car. It doesn't get cleaned out and it can also cause a lot of mold," Hendrix said.
The older-model Toyota doesn't show any signs of damage, but there is something missing.
"This car is missing the jack and that's $100 you're going to spend replacing it,” Hendrix said.
It's also important to check the vehicle id number on the car.
"This is the first place I'd look. Does this VIN match the title on the car? This particular car the VIN label is peeling off so I would be suspect that this door has been replaced and VIN label reattached,” Hendrix said.
Hendrix has seen the explosion of cars being sold online, but he'd advise to sticking with one you can physically check out.
"You can take a car in any light and make it look great. Pictures are deceiving and you can doctor a photo, so it's a good idea to stay local,” Hendrix said.
In addition to taking your final selection to a mechanic to be checked out, there are two online resources to track the car's title. The first is the National Insurance Crime Bureau free VIN check of salvaged and stolen cars. You can also check out the car's history through the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System.