Buying a used car is an excellent way to save money. Even a year-old preowned car can be substantially cheaper than its brand-new equivalent. However, you should definitely be sure to cover all your bases when purchasing a used car – you wouldn’t want to be stuck with a lemon, and there are a lot of things that you should keep your eye on when looking into your new ride. Here are a few to know before committing to any car.
1. Know what kind of car you want.
It’s probably not a good idea to walk onto a dealership and just go for whatever catches you eye; make sure that you have a solid idea of the make, model, and year that you’re interested in. Different cars are good for different needs. If you’re commuting, maybe you want a sensible compact car; if you’re hauling lumber, maybe a truck better suits your lifestyle.
2. Know what a fair price looks like.
Dealerships are in the market to make money, so they might not at first offer you the best possible deal. Using an online pricing tool like Kelley Blue Book
can be a great way to be informed on what the make, model, and year you’re looking for should reasonably be priced. Shopping around to see what other dealers, and even personal sellers, are asking for is another great way to get a sense of the market for your desired vehicle.
3. Online shopping can be useful.
The Internet is a great resource for car-buyers. As mentioned, there are really great pricing tools to ensure that you get a good deal. You can also have cars delivered to you! Just be careful, because shipping a car across the country can be very costly. If you’re looking for a used luxury car
in northeastern Maryland, you would be better off looking at used Audí cars for sale
in the greater Baltimore area than you would having one shipped to you from Dallas. Be sure not to commit to a car that’s several states away!
4. Get a vehicle history report.
Be sure to use a service like AutoCheck
to check the vehicle identification number (VIN) on any cars you’re serious about. This will bring up important information, like mileage (sometimes, previous owners will tamper with odometers), accident history, and whether an insurance company has declared the car totaled. Do not trust any dealer who is unwilling to give you access to this information.
5. If you can, have it inspected.
This is a hassle and can even be a little pricey – but honestly worth it in the long run. See if you can have a mechanic come by the dealership
and inspect the car for unrecorded damage, leaks, missing parts, or anything else that might not be obvious from looking at the car.
6. Ensure access to the title.
A car’s title is its proof of ownership: it has important information about the make, model, year, color, and who has owned it. You can get into all sorts of problems with insurance if you don’t have the title to your car. A reputable salesperson will provide you with the title and not require you to wait long to receive it in the mail. Often these days, an electronic title is available and can be inquired about at the DMV
You want to get the best deal possible. It can sometimes feel a little awkward, but you’ll be happier in the long run. You can make sure that you have the leverage to negotiate by having an approved loan from your bank or credit union. This way, the dealership will be paid up front, which will make them more likely to accept a lower offer, as it’s less of a risk to them. Some dealerships offer in-house financing, but you should definitely look into banks’ and credit unions’ financing offers first, as you’re much more likely to get a better interest rate there.
Used cars can be a truly worthwhile investment. Though there are risks involved, following these steps and being as informed as possible will diminish that risk significantly.