When you're buying a pre-owned vehicle, it's a good idea to check for a state inspection not older than 30 days. State inspections cover the most fundamental safety features of the vehicle, including brakes, steering, lights, seatbelts and emissions. For your protection and peace of mind, you should also consider having the vehicle inspected by an independent mechanic prior to purchase. This may cost you a small sum of money, but the potential savings in expensive future repair bills can outweigh the money you invest in this precaution. Be sure to check the vehicle's tires. These should be at very least in legally acceptable condition, and be of the same type on any one axle. Mixing tire types on one axle is dangerous and unlawful. Make certain that all lights and indicators are working properly, including brake and reverse lights. Check carefully under the hood for any leakage, particularly such leaks that could be a fire hazard. The engine and all components under the hood should be clean and in good condition. Place a clean sheet of cardboard on the ground under the engine when you've finished test-driving the vehicle. This can reveal any fluid leaks that may indicate problems. Good brakes are an essential part of the overall safety of the car. It may be necessary to remove the wheels to conduct a thorough inspection of brake pads and other components, but this is still a sensible precaution and one in which a serious car salesperson should be prepared to cooperate.
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