Nobody likes being sold a lemon, but if you're on the market for a used car, you run more of a risk of ending up with a faulty vehicle. However, if you take the following simple precautions, you can reduce your chances of being sold a bad car.

1. Search by Model
The first step to avoiding the purchase of a bad used vehicle is to weed out the makes and models that have bad reliability records. Look at publications like Consumer Reports to find out what models have a good performance history and which ones do not.

2. Exterior Check
When conducting an exterior check, look for dents, chipped paint, mismatched parts, and any gaps that might show between panels, as these could all be possible signs of previous accidents. As about any exterior marks that seem suspect, and check to see that the trunk and the doors are all in working order.

3. Interior Check
All features of the interior should work well. Handles, knobs, buttons, windows and any electronic components. Double check the seatbelts and look for worn pedals and sagging driver's seats, as these might be indications of high mileage, which believe it or not at times may not be accurately reflected by the odometer.

4. Test Drive
Brake often during your test drive to see that the brakes work properly. Sputtering or shaky brake pedals usually indicate rotor damage. When you turn the wheel, look for any unusual clicking sounds that could be indications of axle damage. And finally, let go of the wheel a few times while driving down a straight road and see if the car veers. Too much veering could be a sign of bad alignment or suspension damage, and could have so seeking California Lemon Law help in the near future.

5. Check the Car History
Make sure you purchase a car history report for any used vehicle you're thinking of buying before you buy it. If you offer to pay for it, the owner should have no problem with this. You can get reports from CarFax or Experian Automotive for about $15. This small expense can save you a lot in the long run. Car history reports alert you to things like past major accidents, flooding, and can even let you know whether the car was stolen.