Although purchasing a used vehicle can be just as fun as a brand-new car, you need to be well-informed to make sure you get the best deal on the right car for you.
To help you along the way, here’s our complete guide to buying a used car …
1) Set Your Budget First
To save you time and hassle later, and to allow you to narrow down your search, you should set a budget right away. What is the ideal and absolute upper-limit that you can spend?
That could be a difficult question to answer, so remember to take into account your regular incomings and outgoings (rent or mortgage, groceries etc), any debts and other foreseeable financial obligations.
As a rule of thumb, it is wise not to spend any more than 20% of your monthly paycheck on your monthly car payment.
Of course, if you’re getting a particularly cheap car, you can easily get a full $500 loan online.
2) Remember a Car’s Real Cost
It’s an easy mistake to look at a car’s sale price and forget all of the other additional costs associated with it. These include various taxes and fees, car insurance, gas, and oil and other regular maintenance costs.
Depending on the use car’s age, it will at some point also require some kind of repair work.
3) Different Types of Used Cars
Once you’ve worked out how much you can afford to spend, it’s time to decide on the type of used car that best suits you.
The most reliable category is Certified pre-owned (CPO). This is a used car that has been inspected, repaired to bring it to a certain standard (if required), and sold with a good warranty. The history is also clear and you generally know that you’re not going to need to fix it in a week’s time.
Of course, you can also find used cars outside of the dealership or car lot, sold by individuals via the web and traditional classifieds. It can take a bit more care to ensure they meet your standards, but all sellers should be open to letting you have a test drive.
4) Don’t Forget Second Tier Makes
While you may automatically gravitate toward the more popular car makes, in terms of performance and reliability, so-called ‘second tier’ makes can get you more bang for your buck. Likewise, you could opt for an older model of a luxury car for a similar price to a brand-new mid-range.
5) Your Needs
Before proceeding you should also make a list of all the features that you require from a car. For example, do you need a vehicle that’s big enough to accommodate a family? What about safety and security features, or entertainment systems? If you’re especially frugal, gas mileage may be your starting point.
7) Do Your Research
The internet has now made it much easier to research different makes and models and special car forums can easily answer any questions you might have.
While it’s always best to test a car yourself before making a final decision, reviews and insight from others will let you know what to expect.
8) Where to Shop
Finding used vehicles is now also much easier thanks to the web. Sites that connect buyers and sellers now service most locations and that’s without mentioning Facebook groups and classified sites like Craigslist.
Then there are the more traditional options such as local newspapers, AutoTrader-style publications, and used car lots and dealerships.
The price of a used car is never final, so you should research the average price of the cars you wish to look at, in order to be effective at negotiating.
The easiest way to do this is log-on to KBB.com (Kelley Blue Book) and find the make/model/year of the vehicle in question.
10) Vehicle History Reports
Whether you’re buying from a dealer or a personal seller, it is wise to get the car’s history records (maintenance, crash history etc).
This will inform you of any possible problems you could face with the car or whether it is worth it all. It will also give you more room to negotiate.
If a seller refuses, then you should avoid the car altogether. The only reason to hide these records is if there is literally something to hide.
With a little common sense and by following the above points, you should be on your way to buying a good used vehicle!