Buying a used car is not just a matter of budget. Given the fact that new cars lose a ton of value the moment you drive them off the lot, it makes a lot of sense to buy used, even if you can afford the brand-new version of the same model. Choosing the right used car, however, is not as easy and straightforward. It is a path fraught with pitfalls and disappointments. But if you equip yourself with a few measures we are going to discuss in this article, then you can end up enjoying champagne motoring for beer money.
Although the advices to adhere to when choosing a used car are somewhat universal, still, budget figures prominently in this equation. Buying a used car under $5K is a lot different than getting something around the $50k mark. The Price is relevant to the amount of thinking and research you should do before buying the vehicle. If it’s just a runabout you want for your daughter to learn how to drive in, then as long as the thing starts and stops and has one airbag, you are going to be okay. But if it’s something you want to use everyday and potentially keep for a few trouble-free years, then it pays to do your homework, to put in the leg work prior to purchase in the hope that you end up with a gem and not a lemon.
Now you may expect us to launch into a long tirade about low mileage and good mechanical condition. But no. Our first advise is, buy from a used car dealership. I know what you’re thinking. Everybody says stay away from dealers. Everybody knows you pay less if you buy private. And that’s all through. But we’re talking about here is the right choice, which entails peace of mind, ease of purchase, and less headache during the period of ownership. Buying from a dealer you sure pay a little more than if you buy private. But you have to take into account that when you buy a car from a dealer, you are dealing with a business, with the backing and the warranty and the incentives that is part of that. What’s more, and this is probably the best reason to buy from a dealer – a reputable one, that is – dealers puts the car through various history and mechanical checks before they buy it themselves. So you save some time and money doing that yourself.
As for the condition of the car, again don’t be afraid of high mileage if your budget doesn’t stretch to a car that’s been sitting around all its life. For one thing – and you can check this with any mechanic you want – a low-mileage car that’s been locked away in a garage for most of its life often develops more problem that one that’s been regularly used and serviced. It all comes down to previous ownership and how they treated the car. And this is where you want the full service history, log book, service receipts and all the other relevant documents. There are services that can check the entire history of the car for you. But as said above, if you buy from a dealer they’ve already done all that, and checked the financing, and made sure the title is clean.
Another rule of thumb in buying the right car for your budget is going for a car (in that price range) that is a little bit more special than the others. This could be the color, or the accessories it might have, or desirable optional extras. You may have to spend a little bit more if you go for the high-spec version, but you will enjoy the car more while you own it, and come selling time you will have an easier time shifting it.
Above all, a correct determination of your vehicular needs is of utmost importance in the final decision. Say, you want to use the car predominantly for taking the kids to school and back. You don’t need an SUV for this job, unlike what the current trend may dictate. Whatever budget you have in mind, it can get you a nicer, safer sedan or hatchback than a big, wasteful SUV. So that’s something to think about.