Buying a used car can be a chore, but if you do your homework, you can avoid driving off with a lemon and empty pockets. Used cars can save you much money over purchasing a new vehicle. Arming yourself with the advice offered in these used car buying tips will give you the advantage when you are ready to go out vehicle shopping.
1. Decide How Much You Can Afford
Even before you start researching vehicles, make sure you can actually afford to purchase a used car. It's not worth going into debt because of your purchase. Smart shoppers will have a budget in place as well as financing options at the beginning of this process. Decide how much you can afford for a down payment and monthly payment. Once you have these two in place, you can then determine a realistic price range.
2. Select the Right Used Car
Never purchase a car on impulse; you need to find the right car to suit your needs. Besides financially, this vehicle should fit your driving habits, have the safety features and cargo capacity you need and be big enough to hold all your passengers. Your car should be functional above everything else.
3. Research the Vehicle
Besides checking on a car's True Market Value (TMV), you will also want to research its safety features, fuel economy, resale value, reliability and standard features. Finding out a used car's TMV can be done online at Kelley Blue Book. Make sure you also run a car history report on any vehicle you are considering. Companies like AutoCheck and CARFAX offer comprehensive reports based on the car's Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). These can tell whether the vehicle has been in an accident, has a salvage title or if the odometer has been rolled back.
4. Check Reviews
Now that you've narrowed down your search, find out what others have to say about the vehicle. A used car dealership or private owner will tell you what they think, but it's best to find out what the professionals think. You can find car reviews and road tests online at various reputable sites. Consider downloading a mobile app to your phone or tablet so you can utilize this information at any time.
5. Get a Second Opinion
Unfortunately, if you want to make sure you are not buying a lemon, then you will need to have an auto expert inspect the vehicle. For about $100, a mechanic will examine the mechanical. safety and appearance aspects of a vehicle including tires, frame, suspension, brakes, hoses, belts, fluids, battery and body condition. If the seller won't allow you to take the vehicle to be inspected, use a shop that offers mobile inspections.
6. Does It Come with a Warranty?
Get in writing the type of warranty that comes with the car. For example, certified pre-owned vehicles from dealers typically come with a warranty provided by the manufacturer. However, if you are purchasing a car from a private seller, you will need to inquire if one is available. You can purchase one on your own, but make sure you really need it.
7. Test Drive the Vehicle
Finally, take the car for a drive, not only around the block, but on a main road or highway. Spend some time at different speeds, checking the breaks, turn signals, mirrors, etc. All this is important when determining if the used car you're testing is suitable for purchase.
Keep these tips in mind when you’re ready to purchase a used car.