Are you in the market for a vehicle but don't want to make a financial commitment to purchasing a brand new car? If so, you certainly aren't alone -- and fortunately, the used car market offers a huge variety of makes, models, and prices. Although used cars sometimes get a bad rap, they can be a wise financial move under the right circumstances. However, keep in mind that the seller has decided to get rid of the car for a reason, so be sure to do your due diligence before putting your signature on the dotted line. 

Following are three things that you should know about buying a used car. 

Lemon Laws Can Be Applied to Used Vehicles

Many people mistakenly believe that lemon laws only apply to new vehicles -- but that's not necessarily the case. If you buy a used vehicle with an express written warranty, anything that's covered in that warranty is protected by federal law, and your individual state statutes may offer even more protection. Even the type of limited warranty commonly offered by dealerships that lasts for a month or two is covered by lemon laws. 

Also, if you buy a used car from a private party, check to see if the vehicle is still covered by the original manufacturer's warranty and ask for a hard copy of that warranty before you finalize the sale. 

You Can Check the History of the Car Through Carfax

Many people are under the impression that Carfax is a service that's only available to dealers, but that's not true -- private citizens can also use them to do a check on the history of vehicles they are considering buying. By entering the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) into their system, you'll receive a report that included the number of owners the car has had, if and when it's ever been involved in an accident and what the resulting damages were, the mileage from the latest odometer reading, if the vehicle or any of its parts have ever had any recalls, and service records. 

You Can Read Online Reviews of the Car

Reading online reviews of the make and model you're considering buying can give you a good general sense of what to expect from the vehicle. Although each individual owner who leaves a review will have their own unique take, you'll be able to pick up on common threads that indicate the car's various strengths and weaknesses. 

Contact a firm, like San Jose Lemon Law Center, for more help.