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Used Car Buying 101

January 28, 2013, 9:53 PM by Angela Kennecke

Used Car Buying 101

Shopping for a used car can be intimidating for those of us who aren't mechanically minded. But armed with the right knowledge you can make a smart choice.

Two cars, same year, same miles, but very different in value and mechanic Bob Hendrix can tell you why.

"Looks pretty good upfront. I haven't seen any accident damage upfront," Hendrix said, as he exams the cars. "This car is a different story. You're walking up to this car and you see a lot of accident damage."

Hendrix is the lead mechanic for the city of Sioux Falls, but also has 30 years experience working as a mechanic for car dealerships, which led him to teach the Community Education Class, Used Car Buying 101. 

"[I] just want to give some people some knowledge," Hendrix said.

Hendrix says first examine the title to see if the car has been salvaged or not.  But not everything always shows up on the title. 

"And a good way to spot repaired accident damage on a car like this would be to open up the hood. You look for areas of repair that would be done on the radiator support and this area here the strut towers," Hendrix said

Even if you don't see accident damage, you can tell a lot by looking under the hood.

"This car looks like it's never been maintained. How can you tell? It's got a lot of oil all over it. The dust is every where.  There's a rag over there indicates to me it's using a lot of oil; someone’s been adding a lot of oil to it. I would steer clear of this car," Hendrix said

Hendrix says some of the imports are marked with VIN numbers so you can tell if a panel has been replaced.

"If you're looking at a car that has accident damage; you need to be aware of that and the seller needs to adjust the price accordingly," Hendrix said.
As we looked closer at the two cars about to hit the market; we found some surprises. 

"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," Hendrix said.

Click here to learn more about Community Education Used Car Buying 101.

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