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There is no substitute for research when buying a used car from an owner. Following are tips on three things you must do.
Narrow Your Choices and Research them Exhaustively
After you've done your research and narrowed the field of possible purchases, call the sellers and ask for the VIN or Vehicle Identification Number. You can use the VIN number to learn a lot about the car before you decide on a test drive. You will probably save yourself a lot of trouble by weeding out cars that are unsuitable based on their history.
Dig a Little Deeper
Get the Technical Service Bulletin (TSB) for the cars you are considering. If you can't get the TSB, try to find out about any recalls or mechanical problems by calling the dealership local to the place where the car was first registered.
Verify Recent Service or Maintenance
Ask the private seller about any recent work or repairs on the car. You may even want to follow up with the mechanic that completed the work. Even if you choose an independent mechanic you should ask about: