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Green Flags to Look For When Buying a Used Car

Car shopping is an exciting time, especially when it means an upgrade. And used car purchases can bring big savings without sacrificing your wish list. When you’re looking at used cars, keep an eye out for these green flags to know you’re on the right track with the purchase.

Woman shopping for a used car.

Rust-free frame and body 

Rust is one of those big drawbacks that should make you pause before purchasing a used car. So when the vehicle is rust-free? It’s a big green flag. Take a look at the frame, and look for any bubbling or flaking paint on the body. But if you don’t see anything peeking through, take that as a good sign. 


It came from a good area 

When you’re buying a used car, you want to be wary if it’s spent time in hurricane country or the Midwest. Salt does a number on frames and bodies of vehicles. And you can’t always tell right away if a vehicle is starting to rust or has had rust covered up. Ask about where the car has rolled down the road. If it’s never been registered in states that have had recent hurricanes or ones where they use salt on icy roads, take that as a green flag. 




The all-clear from your mechanic 

Taking a potential purchase to the mechanic before you make an offer is basically a prerequisite for car shopping. When your mechanic takes a look under the hood and gives you the thumbs up on a prospective car, it’s a big green flag. 


A strong Kelley Blue Book value

Used cars are a hot commodity right now, and their value is higher than ever. When you find a car with a sticker price that matches up with its reported value, take that as a sign that you’re getting good value for your money. 


It’s a Certified Pre-Owned Vehicle 

A certified pre-owned vehicle can cost a little bit more than one that hasn’t been through that extra process. But a CPO qualification comes with the assurance that the vehicle has been thoroughly inspected and has received all the necessary repairs. It might even come with a manufacturer’s or dealer’s warranty. 




You don’t hear or smell anything unusual 

When you take a car out for a test drive, be sure to take it all in—and leave the radio turned off. Listen to how the car sounds when it’s braking, accelerating or idling, and take note of what you hear. The same goes for smells—gasoline, burning oil, or musty upholstery should all make you take note. But if you don’t smell or hear anything strange, take that as a green flag to add to your list. 


It has a complete service history 

You can find out a lot about a used car before you buy it. And the more complete the records are, the better. You should be able to pull a vehicle’s service records online with the Vehicle Identification Number, the dealer should have them available, or a representative from your financial institution can help you out. 

Your credit union can give you a hand with more than just financing for your new ride (though they do that too). Get in touch when you’re ready to shop for a new—or new to you—vehicle, and RMCU Personal Loan Officers can help you through the process.

Non RMCU links are being provided as a convenience and for informational purposes only; they do not constitute an endorsement or an approval by Rocky Mountain Credit Union of any of the products, services or opinions of the corporation or organization or individual. RMCU bears no responsibility for the accuracy, legality, or content of the external sites.

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