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How Can You Help Ensure That Your Used Car Is Safe?

Even new cars cannot be guaranteed to be default-free. However, what if you're buying a used car for yourself or for one of your children? What steps can you take to help ensure that the car doesn't have any defects or hasn't developed a problem during its use that could make it unsafe to drive? Whether you're buying it privately from its current owner, from a dealership or from a company that sells used cars, it's essential to do your homework.

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration has a website that allows you to search for the specific car you're looking at by vehicle identification number, or VIN, to see if any recalls have been issued on the car. You should then ask for documentation from the seller that any recall issues have been fixed.

You should get service records from the seller for the vehicle. These will help you ensure that the vehicle has had regular maintenance. These records will also show the odometer readings at different points. This will help you verify that the current odometer reading on the car is accurate.

Find out if the vehicle has been involved in any accidents. Websites such as CARFAX can give you this information.

Before you seal the deal, have the vehicle inspected by a mechanic or repair shop that you trust to do a thorough diagnosis. Any reputable dealer should allow you to do this. If you're buying the car from a private party, you can offer to follow him or her to the repair shop of your choice.

Many times, defects aren't found or confirmed on vehicles for a number of years after they were manufactured. If you or a loved one is injured in a car accident as the result of a defective vehicle, don't assume that because you bought it used, you have no recourse. A Miami personal injury attorney can advise you of your legal options.

Source: YAHOO! Autos, "How to Avoid a Lemon Car," Jon Linkov, Consumer Reports, Dec. 10, 2015

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