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Are Used Cars Really Safe to Drive?

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If you're looking to replace your current car, you might be wondering how used cars compare to new cars in terms of safety. Driving has become the leading method of transportation in the United States as well as countless other countries. When compared to walking and cycling, driving is faster, more convenient and easier. The downside, however, is that it carries an inherent risk of injury.

The Truth About Used Cars

You should think twice before purchasing a used car. According to a study conducted by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group and the Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety (CARS). many dealerships sell used cars with an open recall. What does this mean exactly? 

When an automaker discovers a serious defect in one of its cars, it issues a recall. Customers who purchased the recalled car can then take their car to a certified dealership or repair shop to have the defect corrected. But if a car has an open recall, it means the defect hasn't been fixed.

For the study, researchers from the respective organizations analyzed data on over 2,400 uses cars for sale throughout the United States. After crunching the numbers, they concluded that nearly 10% of the used cars had an open recall. In other words, about one in 10 used cars for sale had a serious defect that hadn't been fixed or otherwise addressed. 

How to Check for Open Recalls

If you're adamant on purchasing a used car rather than a new car, check the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) to see if it has any open recalls. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) offers a free-to-use tool on its website that you can use to check for open recalls. Just enter the used car's unique 17-character VIN, at which point the tool will scan the recall registry to determine whether it has any open recalls. If a used car has an open recall on it, don't purchase it.

Of course, you should also have the used car inspected by a professional mechanic. Don't just use the dealer's mechanic. If a mechanic works for a dealer, he or she will be biased in their inspection. Instead, hire an independent mechanic to inspect the used car. Along with checking the VIN for open recalls, this will help you make the right choice when shopping for a used car.

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