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Even if you've limited your used car search to widely-known, reputable manufacturers like Honda, Volvo, Subaru, or Toyota, you'll still need to bring in a mechanic you trust to inspect any vehicle you're seriously considering buying. It's not a good idea to ask your mechanic along on your shopping trip, however. Wait until you've selected the car and are just about ready to say those three words, "I'll take it."
But before you get to that point, be sure to do your homework. Check out the car's VIN online to get its background information. At the dealership, physically check tire treads, look for scratches and dents, scan the interior for rips in the upholstery, etc. Give a good look under the hood for obvious problems like cracked tubing, battery acid leaks, etc. And always take the car or truck for a test drive. This is a must. Once you've done all these things, it's fine to bring in your mechanic to run a full inspection on the car.