Consumer Reports: How to buy a used car

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Consumer Reports has some great tips to help protect you from buying a dud and some of these tips can also come in handy if you're buying a new car. (WLS)

Used car salesman tactics have been the butt of jokes for years, and chances are you've probably heard some horror stories. But don't let that stop you from buying a used car. Consumer Reports has some great tips to help protect you from buying a dud and some of these tips can also come in handy if you're buying a new car.

Getting your money's worth when buying a used car can be a challenge, especially around pushy sales people.

Consumer Reports has compiled a checklist of what you need to do walking into a dealership.

"Understand going in that salesmen will try to take advantage of information you give them - like how much you can afford, or if you're in a rush to buy. So never reveal anything," said Consumer Reports Auto Editor Jon Linkov.

Do your research. Look for reliability ratings from sources like Consumer Reports' used-car marketplace and find the true value of the car you want to buy by checking condition, mileage, age, and equipment levels.

But don't rely on dealers for that information. Get a car report through CarFax or Autocheck, online tools which can help alert you to possible odometer fraud or damage or if a rebuilt or salvage title was ever issued. To make sure no fraud or crime is associated with the car, run the VIN number through the National Insurance Crime Bureau.

And don't forget to check for recalls. Safercar.gov or ConsumerReports.org/carrecalls will tell you if there are any safety-related defects or problems.

"Once you've done your homework, state your price. If the seller won't budge, don't be afraid to walk away. You'll see how quickly you'll be given a price you can live with," Linkov said.

Lastly, before you sign the contract, take the car to a certified mechanic, not just an oil change shop. It's worth shelling out the $100 or so it'll cost for an inspection.

And if the car needs repairs after you get it inspected, Consumer Reports says don't be afraid to demand the seller deduct the price of repairs from your offer.

All Consumer Reports material Copyright 2017 Consumer Reports, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Consumer Reports is a not-for-profit organization which accepts no advertising. It has no commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor on this site. For more information visit consumerreports.org

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