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In the market for a new set of wheels—or something used? Avoid getting stuck with a car that has hidden problems. Consider the following precautions:

  1. Interior wear and tear is an indication that the vehicle has been around for a while:
    • Worn brake pedal pad
    • Worn driver’s seat
    • Water under the floor mats
  1. Musty odors point to leaks from the windshield, weather stripping, or heater core.
  1. A wobbly or uneven ride is an indication that springs or shocks may need changing.
  1. Frayed tire edges could mean the car is out of alignment.
  1. Noises—clanking, squeaking, ticking, grinding or knocking point to a damaged transmission, faulty starter, or an engine needing costly repairs.
  1. An uneven paint job could mean there was work done after an accident. You can check vehicle history by using Carfax.
  1. The engine may be leaking or burning oil if motor oil is low.
  1. Internal damage may be the case with dark transmission fluid.
  1. Fingerprints or scratches inside the odometer could mean tampering.
  1. Always check sale prices for similar models at: NADA Guides or Kelley Blue Book.

When in doubt, seek the help of a qualified, trustworthy auto mechanic. Have he/she take the car for a spin and check the car from top to bottom.