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So you want to buy a car in New Jersey. You have to know what to look for, which can be tough. It has to be the right fit for what your needs.

How is the gas mileage? How many miles are on it? Are you looking to lease or own? What brands are you familiar with or loyal to? New or used, it doesn’t matter. It takes a healthy amount of research and knowledge to find your next car.

Whether you want to cruise down to Atlantic City or hop on the Walt Whitman Bridge on your way to Philadelphia, your car has to be reliable and safely transport you from point A to B. To ensure that happens, you must be cautious and recognize the warning signs.

WATCH OUT FOR LEMONS

Some people automatically assume that if they’ve bought a new car, that they’re in the clear. They don’t pay attention to the warning signs that perhaps someone would if the vehicle was pre-owned. However, this can be a huge mistake. A manufacturer defect or condition that impairs the use, safety or value of the car within the first 24 months or 24,000 miles is not your liability to repair. Luckily, the New Jersey Lemon Law protects car-owners in instances such as these.

WAS IT A REBUILT WRECK?

If you’re purchasing a used car, make sure you check out the paint job.

If it chips easily, or you notice mis-matched paint it could be a sign of a shoddy rebuilt wreck. Make sure that the paint job matches the rest of the car in places such as the door jams where it may be easy to overlook.

CONSUMER REVIEWS

Before making any hasty decisions, check out the car dealership online.

Social media provides a great medium to gauge consumer feedback about a particular organization. In addition, there are plenty of automobile review websites and forums where consumers go and voice their opinions.

You want to make sure you’re dealing with a trusted seller. If a situation seems skeptical, it’s best to avoid it. There are plenty of good car dealerships in New Jersey, so don’t feel locked in to a particular one.

DOCUMENT EVERYTHING

Finally, keep all documentation in a safe and easy to reach place. You may need to refer to it later to prove the point of purchase in the event of a lawsuit. New Jersey can get a lot of rainfall and some flooding. Don’t keep these documents in a ground-level location or they may be water damaged during a flood.

Jake Alexander is a free lance writer from New Jersey who enjoys blogging about cars and motorcycles. Follow him @JakeAlexander17.