When in the market for a pre-owned vehicle, purchasing one that is trouble-free is your ultimate objective. After all – you are going to put your hard earned money buying it. Before committing to a car you should not only have firsthand knowledge of the vehicle, but some amount of common sense is also essential. With that being said, it's important to understand some fundamental items that will guide you through the process.

Beware of Crooked Dealers
A little caution is advised when dealing with a pre-owned car seller. While researching the possible used car choices, look for the credentials of each dealer. Perform a comprehensive search on the Internet for any prospective dealers. A comparative study of different dealers will give you a broad idea of ​​the market. Be realistic while judging the offers made by each car dealer – What may seem like a great deal compared to the rest will often prove to have hidden reasons or costs. At the same time, you must check the history of the vehicle as well as its dealer. Be suspicious if he or she fails to provide the vehicle's full details.

Avoid Getting a Lemon
A lemon is a vehicle that, when judged for its safety, value and usability, is found to be below the standards as put forth by law. The following items are most critical when you purchase a used vehicle and are to be inspected thoroughly, so as to avoid buying a lemon.

• Buyer's Guide
The Federal Trade Commission's (FTC) Used Car Rule requires all dealers to post a Buyers Guide in every used car they offer for sale. This document will provide you with several key pieces of information including: whether the vehicle is being sold “as is” or with a warranty; the major mechanical and electrical systems on the car, including major problems to be on the lookout for; and what percentage of the repair costs the dealer will pay under the warranty.

It's advised to get the Vehicle Identification Numbers (VINs) of the shortlisted cars. Based on the VIN, you can get details such as the True Market Value (TMV) and complete vehicle history including the technical and non-technical parts of the car. You can get vehicle history and maintenance reports from websites such as CarFax and AutoCheck.

• History
A vehicle's history is an important factor in checking the fitness of the vehicle. Based on the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), you can get details such as the True Market Value (TMV) and complete vehicle history. You can get vehicle history and maintenance reports from websites such as CarFax and AutoCheck. Read for details such as number of owners, faulty parts, flood damages, theft or accident history, maintenance and service reports, warranty reports, etc. Also check for legal details like antipollution checks, registration certificate, no objection certificate, and other related documents.

• Inspection
Once you've reached a decision on a vehicle to possibly purchase, it is important to have it inspected by an authorized and reputable mechanic. The vehicle may look well externally, but this is not always the case with the internal parts. This is an especially important step when purchasing from a private seller.

• Test drive
Make sure test drive the vehicle for at least 30 minutes to see if there is anything noticeably wrong. Drive it on different types of roads and at various speeds. While driving check for smoothness in steering and look in the rear view mirror for excess smoke. Lastly, check the suspensions, breaks, and any vibrations in the engine while running, as well as for the damaged parts that need replacement.

Authorized Dealers Sell Reliable Vehicles
Once you've made the decision to purchase a vehicle, it becomes your responsibility to check all of the critical aspects that make it a worthy purchase. However, inspecting each of those parts on your own may not be feasible. In this case, your best option is to stick to shopping at authorized dealers' showrooms and lots. These dealers offer only those vehicles that are pre-certified (for vehicle condition) and pre-verified (for vehicle history). This not only reduces the risk of making a faulty purchase, but also provides you with additional benefits such as extended warranties, post-sale support, etc.

Purchasing a used vehicle without proper verification or without following the right procedure can drag you into a mess of financial and legal issues. To avoid that headache and burden, follow the above mentioned tips and reduce your risk of purchasing a trouble-prone vehicle.