Buying a used car can save a lot of money. You don’t have to deal with depreciation as soon as you drive it off the lot. You also won’t have to worry about the unknowns of performance and reliability if it’s a new model or a major revamp of a longstanding vehicle. However, there are some common problems that used cars may have. Look out for these top five used car issues before you make a purchase.

1. Poor Fuel Economy

Poor fuel economy is a frequent issue in used cars. The most likely cause is a lack of maintenance. If the previous owner didn’t change the filter, rotate the tires, or get the fluids flushed at the right intervals, the vehicle could end up getting several miles per gallon of fuel less than what the manufacturer says it can achieve. Consider taking the vehicle in for a tune-up if the dealership didn’t already do this.

2. Warning Lights

It’s always a good idea to take a used car on a test drive. Drive the car at least 20 miles to get a good feel for how it operates in different conditions. This also gives you a chance to see if any warning lights activate. Warning lights can range from minor issues, such as low tire pressure, to more serious issues, such as an overheated engine. It’s wise to get any warning lights checked and problems resolved before you purchase a used vehicle.

3. Dead Battery

A dead battery is a common occurrence in used cars. When properly cared for, car batteries last for two to four years. Parking outdoors, only driving short distances, and failing to maintain the alternator will lead to a shorter car battery lifespan. Consider having your mechanic test the battery’s voltage before you buy the vehicle. Check the date on the battery. This will give you a rough idea about how much life the battery has remaining.

4. Squealing or Grinding Brakes

Worn brakes are common in used cars. This is why a test drive is important. Take the vehicle to a parking lot, and test the brakes in different speed and weather conditions. It’s also a good idea to have your mechanic check any vehicle you want to buy. Your mechanic will be able to tell if the brake shoes and pads are worn or if there’s a leak in the brake fluid lines.

5. Shaking Steering Wheel

If the steering wheel of a used car shakes right after you start the engine or when driving at a low speed, it could have a problem with its wheel bearings or suspension. If the steering wheel shakes only at higher rates of speed, the car could have a tire balance problem or an alignment issue. These problems can typically be detected by a thorough mechanic if you arrange an inspection before making the purchase. 

Protect yourself and your investment by checking for these five common problems with used vehicles before you make your purchase.

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