It is a right of passage that nearly everyone must go through, and then regret later: buying a used car. We have all seen it happen to people we know. They purchase a used car and later find out it was a lemon. It can be a very dangerous game because of the unforeseen costs that come along with a used car. How can you trust the person selling the car? Is the car in as good as shape as the seller says it is?

Buying a used racecar can be even more dangerous, not only because of the possible added expenses, but because equipment not up to par on the safety side of things could cost you your life. Having said that, I understand why people purchase a used car. In fact, the car I am racing this season in Hooters Pro Cup was purchased used two years ago. If you do your homework, research the car and the buyer, and avoid rushing into things, then you can end up with a great machine capable of winning.

A lot of the rules that apply when purchasing a used street car are applicable to purchasing a used racecar. However, avoid the temptation to purchase a used racecar simply because you really, really want to race. After you have determined what class you want to be driving in and at what tracks, then you need to visit those tracks. Nine out of 10 times you will find a car for sale from the division you choose. Before anything is said to the car owner, sit back and watch how the car runs that evening. Speak with other drivers that have raced against it and find out how the car usually runs. If the car is usually finishing seventh out of an eight-car field, then I would suggest spending your money elsewhere. Also, it would be wise to ask around to see if anyone recalls the car being involved in any recent hard crashes. Record mental notes to be used later.

The car itself should be looked at closely before any money is exchanged. But what if you do not know what to look at, or what to look for? That's all right, because there are a few factors that will show you what type of life the car has had. Of course there are always exceptions to the rules, but these tips will go a long way in assisting you in purchasing a good used racecar.

First, the gas tank won't lie to you. I am not speaking of the fuel bladder, but rather the steel casing the fuel bladder fits into. After a hard wreck where the rearend has been heavily damaged, teams often save money by simply beating the dents out of the tank. If you crawl underneath the car and see several wrinkles on the tank, then you know at some point a bent chassis component put that bend in the tank.

A car owner could simply purchase a new tank and hide the fact that the car was involved in a major accident six races ago. In fact, the complete front and rear chassis components (or clips) can be replaced rather easily. Most manufacturers start in front of the firewall and replace everything forward when they cut off a front clip, which means the firewall can also be a point of reference to see how many races the car has been through. I am not referring merely to bends or wrinkles here. If you notice holes that were cut for electrical wires but no longer have any wires traveling through them, then that might be an indication that the car had a previous owner, or at least another type of engine.