Shopping for a Used Car Can Be Easy
When people buy a used car from a car dealership for the very first time, they might feel overwhelmed or worried that they’ll say or do the wrong thing, or even make the wrong choice. These worries are absolutely valid, because buying a car is making an investment, which can be a high-pressure situation.
However, most people agree that buying a used car from a dealership doesn’t actually have to be all that bad! Follow these simple tips to make your experience go smoothly.
DO Research Used Cars Before Shopping
You should never even head out onto a car lot in-person until you’ve done some general research on used cars. When you gather as much knowledge as possible, you’ll feel more confident when you do actually step foot on the lot.
You should research things like crash test safety scores and reliability scores, fuel economy, interior space, and the optional features that may be available on different car makes and models. Research gives you an idea of the kind of car you might like to buy, or helps you rule out those that you definitely don’t want.
The internet has lots of free resources for research like this; a simple Google search will take you to websites with content focused on finding quality used cars.
DO Talk to Family and Friends About Their Vehicles and Where They Got Them
Word-of-mouth is one of the best ways to find out about car dealers that give you great deals and provide exemplary customer service. You have loads of resources right at your fingertips, if only you ask!
You can start your search to determine where you’d like to purchase your next vehicle by asking for your friends’ and family members’ opinions! Where did they find their used car? Do they like driving it? Did they feel like they got a good deal? Where do they like to shop for used cars? Their answers to your questions could lead you to the car of your dreams!
DON’T Allocate Your Entire Savings to a Car Purchase
If you’ve been saving up for a down payment for a while, chances are you’ve put away a decent little nest egg. However, it’s unwise to spend every penny you have on a car! Instead, decide upfront what size of down payment you’re comfortable with making, and don’t sway from that. You can find a quality used car with a down payment less than $1,000 if you look hard enough for it.
DO Apply for Pre-Approval
Heading into the car dealership with zero idea of how you’ll get financing to make your purchase is not wise. What will you risk? Well, it’s possible the salesperson will not take you seriously. It’s more likely, however, that you’ll fall in love with a vehicle that you have no chance of affording.
Put your Corvette or Maybach dreams aside and fill out any pre-approval paperwork for vehicle financing that you need to complete before dropping by the dealership to talk to a salesperson. You might get your financing through a bank or a credit union. Or, if you are worried about your credit score or have a small down payment, you might consider getting financing for a used car directly from a pay here buy here car lot. These dealerships will both sell you a car and extend you a loan, all under one roof. You’ll even pay off your loan directly with the car lot, eliminating third-party involvement altogether.
DO Know How Much You Can Afford
Before you agree to purchase a vehicle, you need to have some idea of how much it will cost you each month. Never agree to buy a car if you aren’t sure that you can afford the payment.
Examine your monthly budget. Start with the amount of money you bring home in your paychecks each month. Then, subtract all your bills from it, like your rent or mortgage, utilities, cell phone plan, student loans, or anything else you are obligated to pay. Then, subtract how much you spend on things like food, entertainment, and clothes. When you’ve finally subtracted all of your monthly expenses (and maybe allotted some of your earnings for savings), you should be able to determine exactly how much money you can spend per month on your used car payment. And remember: just because you’re pre-approved for a higher amount, doesn’t mean that you have to spend that much!
DON’T Buy the Very First Car You See
After you’ve secured financing and begin strolling around the car lot to look at the vehicles available to you, you’ll probably want to take a few test drives to get a feel for what it’s like to be behind the wheel.
Since you haven’t driven anything newer than the rusty car you’ve been using to get to and from work, you’ll probably really enjoy driving a much newer vehicle the second you click your seatbelt closed and put it in gear.
Deciding to buy the very first car you test drive could result in buyers’ remorse or lots of “what ifs.” Instead, test drive a couple different vehicles that you can afford before making your decision.
Are You Ready to Go Car Shopping?
Now that you know a few of the handiest tips for shopping for a used car, we hope that you feel better prepared for this exciting step in your journey to car ownership. It’s time for you to visit the dealerships your friends and family recommended and search for a reliable vehicle in your budget. Best of luck!