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Five things you must do before buying a used car

8:48 PM, Feb 6, 2013   |    comments
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ORANGE PARK, Fla. -- Buying a used car can save you money, but it can also cost you money. Last October, Stoonie Powell bought a used car. He paid $4,000.

"It was a very good car," said Powell. "That's basically what I was told, it was a good car."

It is a 2004 Chevrolet Impala. It looked like a cream puff on the outside, but under the hood it was a lemon.

"Everything started happening," said Powell. "Quite a few things started happening."

Powell, 91, said this is not his first time buying a vehicle, but this time it cost him.

"I did not go and have it examined. That's where I made my mistake," said Powell.

Less than 30 days after owning the vehicle, Powell's employer paid to replace all four tires.

Then they took it to Dennis Cascante for an inspection and he told him to take it back to the used car dealer.

"They said 'you bought it As Is,'" said Powell. "I didn't expect the 'As Is' to turn out as it did."

Cascante said the vehicle was in such bad shape, it cost Powell nearly $3,000 to get it right.

"At the time he bought the vehicle in the here, it was overheating," said Cascante.

Cascante owns College Automotive Specialist. He said when he saw the car again, it had a blown head gasket

"We had to change radiators, water pump. The car was a total mess," he said. 

Cascante said he sees this too often and tells his customers, buyer beware.

"Do not sign on the dotted line until you bring the vehicle or either a shop looks at it," said Cascante. "Someone you trust."

Powell said looking in the rear view mirror, buying this used car was an expensive lesson.

"My advice to anyone is go get it checked first," said Powell. "You're buying. A used car means it has been used."

HERE ARE FIVE MUST-DOS BEFORE YOU BUY: 

-Check prices of similar models using Kelley Blue Book (www.kbb.com) to be sure you're paying a fair price.

-Check the Center for Auto Safety (www.autosafety.org) for information on safety defects, recalls, and lemons, as well as service bulletins.

-Check safetyforum (www.safetyforum.com) for a free online search of registered lemons.

- Is there a manufactuer's warranty, implied warranty or is it being sold as is? Get a clear understanding

- Is there a return policy? Get it in writing and read it carefully and have the vehicle inspected by your mechanic before you buy.

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