That can be a tall order when looking for a used car. Everyone's idea of well-maintained is different. To some car owners, that means following the manufacturer’s recommended services and having regular oil changes. To other vehicle owners, regular maintenance means putting gas in the car when the low fuel light comes on.
It's hard to tell when looking at a used vehicle what the care of the vehicle has been over its life span. That's why you should invest in a pre-purchase inspection for any vehicle that you are considering purchasing.
I know. It's sounds like a sales pitch. Here's the deal. Most people purchase a vehicle that fits into their budget. Rarely does anyone say, “I have $7000 for a used car but I'm going to set aside $2000 for potential repairs.” Unfortunately, we’ve seen the $7000 car that needs $2000 worth of repairs. That becomes an unfortunate scenario with no one ending up happy. You no longer love your new vehicle because it has caused you financial stress. You're probably not very happy with the person you purchased it from and you're not happy with us for having to hand you the estimate of needed repairs.
Save yourself the stress of this scenario and take a car you're seriously considering purchasing to your trusted automotive shop and let them give you an idea of the condition it's in. You'll have better bargaining power with the seller if repairs and maintenance are needed.
You'll also have peace of mind knowing the likelihood of expensive repairs is less after having a professional inspection. You'll be glad you made the investment!