Automobiles are often considered one of the bigger expenses in your life and that’s especially true if you buy the wrong one.

The wrong vehicle can quickly become a pit and you may even find yourself paying even more for the car within a couple of years if you don’t take proper precautions. Make sure you avoid buying a car with hidden expenses by taking certain precautions when purchasing a vehicle.

The Best Car Buying Tools

It’s easy to fall in love with the idea of a new car, but if you don’t do your homework properly, you could end up with the worst car of your life. Here are five ways to help you avoid buying a money pit car:

Car Pricing Sites

There are plenty of sites out there designed for consumers looking to buy a new or used vehicle. Sites like Edmunds and TrueCar aggregate prices from multiple dealers in your area, so you can quickly see what you should be paying before you walk into any dealership.

Money Pit Cars

While many sites like these are free, some do charge membership fees. For most folks though, they’re well worth it. A 1-2% savings on an expensive purchase is worth every penny.

Used Car Apps

When buying a used car, it’s important to use tools that help you identify extra expenses. If it seems like too good of a deal to be true, it probably is. What’s more, you could end up with hidden costs due to preexisting issues (which can become money pits).

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Before you buy any used vehicle, run its VIN through an online vehicle history report service (e.g., Carfax), which will tell you if any major issues should make you think twice about buying. If there are red flags on your report (or at least potential for them), it may be best for all parties involved if you back out before finalizing paperwork.

Tools to Estimate the Car’s Value

Cars don’t stay in good condition forever and their value and worth fluctuate. Luckily, there are some apps and websites that can help you estimate their value so you can be sure you’re getting what you paid for or selling for the right price. Using a car value calculator will give you a well-rounded picture of a car’s value and help you time the market to buy or sell.

Online Reviews of Car Dealerships

Another way to avoid buying a money pit is to read online reviews of a car dealership before making a purchase. Check out sites like Yelp or CarDealExpert, which provide in-depth (and often brutally honest) reviews of new and used vehicles along with their ratings on customer service, price, and more.

If you’re looking at used cars, also look at Kelley Blue Book or Edmunds. Both provide information on average prices across several dealer networks within your area. Plus, these sites let you see all kinds of stats about how long certain models hold value compared to others.

Apps for Car Loans

Another tool to consider is an app for car . This can help you compare auto loan rates from different lenders and have them delivered straight to your inbox. To use this service, simply input some basic information about your finances, including income, debt load, and length of time on your current job.

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Consider apps like Credit Karma and LendingTree to start. Just make sure you understand what terms they’re offering before making any decisions and never pay someone for a recommendation or help with financing.

It’s common knowledge that buying used cars can save you money, but it’s also risky because you don’t know what kind of shape the car is in, how reliable it will be, or what hidden expenses will pop up. That’s why it’s important to use the most effective tips to help you know what kind of deal you are getting into before you buy a used car. Use this guide to ensure your next used car isn’t a money pit.

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