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Is that used car you're buying a former rental car?

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Did you know that many used cars actually come from car-rental companies? Some people buy rental cars from used-car dealerships without even realizing it. If you’re in the market for a used car, make sure you know where it came from.

When you’re buying a used car, it’s important to know the vehicle’s history. For example, was it in a flood or was it a rental car? Some important details might change your mind about buying a car. You can check the history of a car by looking up the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) at Carfax, an online service that provides information about used cars.

Consumer Reports auto experts also recommend that you get any used car you’re considering inspected by an independent mechanic before you buy it. That can be a better indicator of the car’s history and what condition it's in today.

In addition to Carfax, you can also use AutoCheck to look up a vehicle’s history. Keep in mind that these services aren’t free -- they cost about $30.

To check for recalls, go to Safercar.gov. You can also get a free VINCheck report from the National Insurance Crime Bureau to see whether a car has been reported stolen or declared as salvage.

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