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New carSurprises can be wonderful at the right time and place, such as with an unexpected birthday gift or a raise at work. But when it comes to a new car, surprises are not what you’re looking for. Surprise leaks, damage, or accident histories can transform a solid buy into a reliability nightmare.

To avoid encountering the wrong kind of surprises, consider these key factors when shopping for your new car:

Mileage

It’s not just high mileage you have to watch out for; it’s also specific mileage. Every car has regular service intervals, and some require extensive and often expensive work at some mileage milestones.

Perhaps the car you’re interested in needs new timing chains at 75,000 miles, for instance. A car with 74,000 miles would soon require this service, while a car with 76,000 miles would’ve already received it.

Unless the 74,000-mile example has a reduced price to compensate for the upcoming maintenance, the car with more miles may actually be the better choice.

Car History Reports

There are companies online that provide vehicle history reports on used cars. These reports can show service history, registration locations, and accident damage severity.

When shopping for a car, ask the dealer for the report. Many will provide it for free. If you’re buying from a private party, run the car’s vehicle identification number (VIN) through an online history report database to find out how the previous owners treated the car.

Signs of Potential Issues

When you take the car for a test drive, make sure to test everything you can, including all buttons, switches, and latches. You want to know that every item is functional. If anything isn’t working properly or is broken, you may still want the car, but factor repairs into the final price.

Tire Condition

Tires are expensive. Some cars may come with a new set of tires, but for those that don’t, check the treads to verify that they aren’t too worn. Slot a penny into the tread with Lincoln’s head facing you and aiming down.

If you can see Lincoln’s entire head, the car needs new tires. Also, check for cracking or brittleness, which are signs the tires may be old or dry-rotted.

A Pre-Purchase Inspection Report

Hiring a mechanic to inspect the car is wise. They can spot issues that might not be obvious, preventing you from dealing with major undisclosed damage or wear.

Knowledge Is Power When Purchasing a New Car

Save yourself future headaches and expenses by doing your homework before you buy a car. The more knowledge you have, the better able you will be to find a vehicle that you can depend on and enjoy.

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