Used cars sell better than new ones in Colorado, despite the work of avoiding lemons. Need some tips on making a well-founded decision?

What Colorado Drivers Can Do to Ensure a Sound Investment

We’ve all heard the saying, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” That saying may work for some situations, but it’s kind of hard to make anything out of a lemon when that ‘lemon’ is your used car. More and more people are turning to used cars rather than putting their money into a new car, and if you are among those looking for a used car, there are things you can do to avoid getting a lemon.

Used-Car Sales Are on the Rise

According to, an online resource for automotive information, more than 38 million used cars were sold in 2015. That amounts to a 5.6 percent increase from 2014.

If you are in the market for a used car, Consumer Reports (CR) notes that finding a trouble-free used car has everything to do with due diligence on the part of the would-be owner, and despite what some people believe, nothing to do with luck. As the consumer resource notes, “Knowing how to spot potential problems and determining how reliable a used vehicle is can save you from expensive automotive headaches down the road.”

So, what are the things you can do to avoid buying a lemon? There are things that can be done via the internet, as far as research is concerned, and then there are things you can do when you are physically near the car. First, the research.

If you have a particular car in mind you should:

  • Check the reliability record of that particular make and model and see if there are any problems noted. Reliability information can be found on any number of sites such as J.D. Power Data.
  • Check for auto recalls, and if you have the vehicle identification number (VIN) of the car you are looking to purchase, you can see exactly what has been recalled. A good follow-up question for the current owner would be whether the repairs were done. You can go to The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for a list of all official recalls.
  • Check the car’s history via companies like Carfax or Experian Automotive. Using the vehicle’s VIN number, you can look at any past damage or auto accident.

Once you’ve completed some basic research and you are still interested in buying the used car, there are things you should do in and around the car to make sure you are not being sold a lemon.

  • If you know a good mechanic, bring him or her with you to look at the car or bring the car to a mechanic to have it inspected.
  • Check the interior for wear and tear. Also look for discolored carpeting or intermittent electrical issues. These problems could be a sign of flood damage.
  • Check under the hood for possible fluid leaks. Also, check all the belts and hoses to make sure they are unworn, one indicator that the previous owner kept up on general vehicle maintenance.
  • Check suspension of the car to see whether struts or shock absorbers are worn.
  • Check the engine when test driving — make sure it doesn’t rev excessively before you step on the gas pedal.

If you find issues, it may be best to walk away and keep searching for that used car.

Subaru Is Best-Selling Car in Colorado

Last year, the Colorado Automobile Dealers Association noted that used cars and trucks outpaced new purchases. When compared to 2015, though, used vehicles did see a decrease of 0.5 percent in 2016, but even with that decrease, used sales still outpaced new sales. As for what was purchased, Subaru, Jeep, and Hyundai (despite its recent recalls) lead the way with used sales. When it comes to buying a new car, Colorado residents are sold on three different automakers, as these three make up the top 10 cars sold in the state. Subaru comes in at #1 with its Outback and Forester vehicles. Honda and Toyota also come highly ranked in the state for new purchases.

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