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How to choose the best used car

Since new cars can depreciate by up to 40 percent after three years, used cars can be a big money-saver if done right.

WTOP got tips on how to search for a used car and which ones to focus on from Consumer Reports deputy auto editor John Linkov:

  • During the test drive, look for bucking, excessive bouncing over bumps, wind noise and whether the car’s engine offers enough performance. If the engine revs up but the car hesitates, that could be a sign of a slipping transmission.
  • “If you’ve really gotten it down to one [car] that you’re willing to pay for, ask the owner or ask the dealer if you can take it to a mechanic,” Linkov said. For about $100, a mechanic will tell you “whether it’s a lemon or a peach,” he said.
  • Check the history of the car through a vehicle history report. You can also try taking the vehicle identification number to a dealership and asking for the service history.
  • Consumer Reports recommends used models based on road test and reliability scores, and safety features.

Find more from Consumer Reports’ used car buying guide.

Here are some of the best used car options for SUVs, compact cars and larger sedans:

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