So you’re looking for a new, to you, car. Buying a car can be a stressful experience but it doesn’t have to be. With a little background knowledge, you can make the daunting task of car shopping easy and score a great deal in the process. The more you know about how the process works and what pricing is reasonable the better deal you’ll get.
You don’t have to figure out these things on your own. There are a lot of car buying guides out there to help you along the way as well as sites like buy here pay here. Putting in some research and checking out those guides can help you get a great deal by the time you reach the dealership. Being an informed consumer is your best weapon in making sure you don’t get cheated into buying a bad car or overspending.
When you are looking for tips online you’ll be able to find tips from all kinds of experts. There are tips from buy here pay here car lots to car enthusiasts who collect rare and vintage cars. They all have valid advice to help you out. Here are five expert tips to get a good deal on a used car.
1. Be Flexible With What You Want
So you think you want a Honda Accord. Could the similar Toyota Camry or Kia Optima work for you as well? Limiting yourself to a specific make and model could leave you with only a few options causing you to miss out on a comparable vehicle at a better price point. Instead of zeroing in on one dream car, make a list of the features that are most important to you.
One benefit of buying used is that there are many options for where to buy from. Buy here pay here car lots are one of the most familiar and easiest options out there. Don’t be afraid to search outside your immediate area. Getting online is an easy way to track down the perfect car for you and can be a good way to find a variety of options.
2. Do Your Homework
Once you have zeroed in on specific cars, figure out what they’re worth. A little research before even seeing the car will pay off in the long run. There are many different websites including Kelly Blue Book that can help you to know a car’s true value. You can also get a CarFax report if you feel like the seller is being hesitant to tell you the full history of the vehicle.
No used car is going to be perfect but you can certainly avoid being scammed. An average car drives approximately 12,000 miles per year, if a car’s listed miles seems disproportionate to its age, ask some questions and find out why. Asking questions about a car’s history and asking to see it’s service records are crucial parts to purchasing a used car.
It is a good idea to check if a car you’re looking at has been a part of any manufacturing recalls which can be searched using the VIN. If it has you can then be sure the previous owners have made the needed repairs or if you will need to. It is better to find out everything before you sign anything, since you may be buying someone else’s problems.
3. Test Drive Carefully
The test drive is a crucial step in the used-car buying process. It’s here where you’ll see if the car you like on paper is really a good fit for you and also where you can detect any potential problems with the car itself. Are there any major red flags in the form of problematic smells or unexpected noises? Does the car idle smoothly or does it hesitate when accelerating?
If you are buying the car locally, try driving one of your normal routes. The familiarity of the drive will let you focus on how the car feels and handles, rather than potentially getting stressed out about not knowing exactly where you’re going or figuring out the speed limit somewhere you’ve never been before. Test all of the seat belts during the drive to ensure they’re in good condition.
Of course, during your drive, you are going to be zeroed in on whether the car has adequate legroom and visibility for you but it is also important to note some other important factors. Is the gear shifter in a good place for you? Does the passenger side sun visor have a mirror? Will your child’s car seat fit in the back of the car with ease or will it be a struggle?
4. Have the Car Inspected
If you are buying the car from a dealer, they should have the car “certified inspected” already but you can still ask to see the report. You can always request to take the vehicle to an impartial mechanic and have them look the car over for you. Most places charge a nominal fee ranging from $50-$100 for this service which is worth it just for peace of mind.
Even if you aren’t taking the car to a mechanic there are things anyone can do. Check the oil dipstick. If the oil seems dirty or dark it could be an indication the engine has not been maintained well. Oil that appears white or has bubbles, is an indication of water in the engine which can lead to major mechanical problems.
Open and close all the doors and windows, including the trunk to ensure they can do so easily. If there are any issues, you can ask questions as to why and then research whether that is a repair you want to take on. Ask about the airbags and any other issues you might be concerned about at that time too. It’s okay to be picky, this is going to be your car for a long time.
5. Know Your Price Point (And Stick To It)
Once you have narrowed in on a car it’s time to figure out how much you are going to pay. You already know that there are some good deals to be had buying used instead of new, but is it really a good deal if you spend more than you should? The answer here is a solid no. You will also need to factor in the insurance premium for your new car plus the license and registration fees.
If you are trying to secure the financing it is best to know how much you will be approved for, but plan to make your down payment as generous as possible to avoid a larger monthly payment. If you are planning to buy the car outright that is great! Just remember to use something like a cashier’s check so you can protect yourself from fraud or theft while making the payment.
Buying a used car doesn’t have to be the terrible experience you may be expecting. It’s become somewhat of a trope or joke that car dealerships want to make the process impossible and sell a bad car to an uninformed customer. This is no longer the case. As long as you keep the tips you read here in mind you’ll be able to find a good car at a great price. Happy shopping!