Let’s face it, buying a car can be just as much of a headache as selling one. Here we have compiled some tips which will guide you so you don’t end up paying into a money pit for years to come.
1. Do your research
Knowledge is power, so the more you know the better.
Generally people have an idea of what they need in an automobile. Narrow it down as far as you can before you begin; Do you need space for kids? Do you need to tow a boat? Once you have a distinct type in mind consider your brand options and eliminate any that don’t suit your specific needs.
Once you’ve got a good idea of the car you are seeking start researching the brand(s) and model you have chosen. Be sure to utilize tools such as consumer reports, used car reviews for specific years and the Wikipedia is also a fantastic source of information about different years and phases. Remember the more you know, the better armed you are for dealing with all of the tribulations buying a new car can throw at you.
Know your perspective vehicle top to bottom, get an idea of average prices your vehicle(s) of choice are being sold for. Decipher which options and features you must have and which ones you can live without. Also decide how many miles on the odometer is too many for your comfort. Last but not least it would be wise to research your local mechanics for one who specializes in the brand(s) you intend to purchase.
2. Where to start looking
It goes without saying that no one wants to visit a used car lot, no one can say they like to be badgered into making a large purchase. That said, at a new car lot you may have a good chance of finding a trade in that is in good condition. Although you may pay more for it than you would buying directly from a private owner. This is a viable option for someone who has little time and plenty of money to spend. Just remember that the salesmen at brand dealerships want to sell you a new car, they have stock to move, badgering may ensue.
Private owners is the other big option for purchasing a used vehicle, although a far more time consuming one. Chances are this is the avenue that will be the most cost effective in terms of price alone. However you will have to invest time and effort into making phone calls and test driving vehicle after vehicle. Put that mechanic you researched on speed dial.
3. What to ask
There are many questions you should ask someone who wants to sell you a car, we all know that, funny how our mind can go blank when put on the spot. Write down a list of questions you want answers to prior to spending time looking at (and perhaps falling in love with) a vehicle. You’ll want to know how many owners the car has had; if it has had any accidents; if it requires any repair to be in good working order; access to service records and information about where it has been serviced; last but not least you’ll want to know why the seller is ridding themselves of the vehicle.
If you buy from a dealership we recommend that you don’t purchase anything that they cannot provide service records for. Part of the beauty of the dealership is that most people who trade in for the same brand keep it maintained there at the dealer.
4. Cover yourself
We can’t stress enough that the purchase of an automobile should not be an impulsive one. It is easy to get excited when you find what you are looking for, however this excitement is translated to your seller and they could use it against you in the bidding war. You may decide to buy the first car you looked at, and that’s ok, but only do it after you have shopped around.
You’ll want to take down the VIN number of any vehicle you are interested in buying and research it with services such as CARFAX which will give you an idea of its history with regards to accidents and damage that can affect the life span and overall health of the car. In reality a car becomes a member of the family, there is no need to adopt a sick one.
5. Ah, Paperwork
With any large purchase comes the never ending paperwork. Be sure to check with your local DMV to ensure you have all the proper forms to fill out, it varies from state to state. Never depend on the seller to have this information for you.
If you are interested in purchasing an extended warranty for your new vehicle you’ll want to have that in place when you hand over your money. It is also important to contact your insurance company prior to the purchase so they can be prepared to add the new vehicle to your policy, eliminating any liability on your drive home with your new prize.
Hopefully this list will help you to plan for your next used car purchase. Research, research, research, we can’t stress that enough. It will be the one factor that makes or breaks your used car buying experience. Good luck!