Get used vehicles inspected before you buy

Flags and used-car banner

Let an independent mechanic check out that used car or truck before you sign the purchase agreement.

Getting an inspection is particularly important if you're buying:

Take the vehicle to an auto shop that's familiar with the brand you're considering and has a certification of expertise from a group like the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence, or ASE.

Make sure you confirm what the checkup will cost before you bring the car in, but expect it to run from $100 to $200 -- a bargain compared with finding later that your car has serious mechanical issues.

It's a good idea to ask about routine maintenance as well. How worn are the brakes? Is the exhaust system rusting out or are the cooling hoses cracked and in need of replacement?

The garage cannot only spot potential problems but provide an estimate on how much they will cost to fix.

Reputable sellers won't object to having their car checked out at a nearby garage.

You don't want to buy from anyone who won't allow an inspection.

Our 10 smart moves for buying a great used car or truck can help you make all the right decisions.