Many consumers opt for a used car instead of a new car due to the lower price tag and the fact that the value of new cars reduces dramatically as soon as the car is driven off the lot. Investing in a used car can be a wise decision, but you need to make sure that you make smart choices along the way. To ensure that you aren't purchasing a lemon or a vehicle with hidden damage, here are five things to do as you search for a used car.

1.  Carefully Inspect the Interior and Exterior

When it comes to the value of a vehicle, the interior and exterior play a huge role. Thoroughly inspect the interior upholstery, checking for major stains and rips. For the exterior, look for any major damage. You will also want to look for any signs that the vehicle has been in an accident. While there is nothing wrong with purchasing a vehicle that has been in a fender-bender previously, you need to ensure that the vehicle has been professionally and thoroughly repaired. Look for rusted or dirty parts under the hood, as these can be signs of trouble.

2. Take the Vehicle for a Test Drive

It is important to take any vehicle that you are considering purchasing for a test drive. Go on a city street as well as a highway so that you can see how the vehicle performs in different environments. Take note of how the braking and steering systems respond, and listen for any unusual noises.

3. Do a Leak Test

While you are out on your test drive, pull over to check for fluid leaks. If the vehicle is leaking fluids, it is typically not a good sign. To do a leak test, find a clean area of the road to pull over and park for 30 to 60 seconds with the vehicle running. Then, pull the vehicle forward so that you can perform a visual inspection of the ground to see if any fluids have leaked from the car. Generally, green fluid is indication of anti-freeze leaking, black fluid is a sign of an oil leak, and pink fluid is a sign of a transmission leak.

4. Get a Vehicle History Report

To help ensure that you are getting the whole picture about a vehicle, it is important that you request a vehicle history report. This report will help you see ownership history, previous accidents, service history, and title issues. You can order this report online or get it from a dealership.

5. Get the Vehicle Inspected by a Mechanic

Last, but not least, consider having the vehicle inspected by an independent mechanic. This is something that many people don't want to spend money on, but it can lead to money saved down the road if hidden problems are discovered early on. After all, if the vehicle you are considering purchasing is going to have problems in the future, a professional mechanic is the person to tell you.

Keep these tips in mind as you look at used cars like Chevrolets for sale.