Buying a used car can be a great way to score a bargain and save money. However, this isn’t always as easy as you might think. With so many choices on the second-hand market, finding the right car can be a challenge. Failure to do all of the required preparation could end up costing you plenty of cash in terms of repairs, time, and effort. Therefore, it’s important that you always do your homework before you purchase a used vehicle.
So, how best can you go about your used car buying journey? Here are top tips to help make the process of finding and buying a used car easy.
Figure out How Much You’re Willing to Spend
How much money can you spend on a used car? Will you take out a loan or pay in cash from your savings? What are your financing options? These are important questions you need to ask yourself before taking any other step. Having a clear budget will guide you throughout the process and help you narrow your search. Make sure you stick to your budget.
A car is an investment that opens the door for expenses such as registration fees, insurance, taxes, and possible maintenance and repair costs. You should set aside money for these expenses.
Research the Cars you May be Interested In
Chances are you always take the time to do your homework before making any purchase. Buying a used car is no exception. Your initial research should focus on gaining insight on the recent resale prices, pros and cons, and performance of the car you’re interested in. Keep in mind that you can research and find any information you want about specific car models online. Find a car or cars that meet your criteria in terms of lifestyle, family needs, budget, and maintenance costs.
Find out the Market Value of the Vehicle
Use online pricing guides to determine the market value of your prospective vehicle. You can check similar makes and models of used cars for sale online as well. Doing your research will equip you with knowledge that will help you negotiate the right price for the specific car model you’re interested in. Don’t just look at the price. Check other features such as the backup cameras, navigation system, leather seats, type of engine, head restraints, forward collision warnings, and trim level. The mileage is another important metric to check as it directly affects the price.
Get your Hands on the Vehicle’s History Report
The fact that everything about a vehicle looks spotless and right on the outside doesn’t mean you can now close the deal. A vehicle history report will help you see your prospective car’s ownership history, title information, previous accidents, odometer readings, and service points. A used car check with a vehicle history checking company like CarFax or AutoCheck is certainly worth the fee.
Take a Thorough Test Drive
There’s no better way to know if a specific car model is right for you than taking it on a test drive. Test-driving is also a good way to determine the condition of your prospective car. Now everyone knows how to test drive a used car. How easy is it to get in and out of the car? Do you find the driving position comfortable? Are the seats adjustable? How is the visibility? Are there any unusual vibrations or noises? Test the turn indicators, brake lights, air conditioning, and headlights to be sure they work.
Allow at least 30 minutes, tuning out distractions, to focus on the car. Consider requesting for the car’s service records from the dealer or owner once you’re done with the test drive.
Take the Car to a Professional Technician for a Final Inspection
A mechanic can help you identify car issues that are not easy to detect. So, if you enjoyed driving the vehicle and feel it suits your lifestyle and budget, you should take it to a professional technician. An experienced mechanic with a keen eye for detail will identify and uncover any cloning or clocking scams among other issues. Don’t skip a used-car pre-purchase inspection as it may cost thousands of dollars in the long run.
You might also be asking yourself, can you buy an extended warranty on a used car? The answer is yes. There are many companies, like Olive, that specialize in extended warranties that offer a greater deal of protection and comfort.
Check all Paperwork Thoroughly
Take the time to check all the paperwork including the registration, warranty documents, prepaid service plans, and sales contract. Don’t be in a hurry or feel pressured into signing the sales contract. This is the document with the agreed-on sales price, documentation fees, registration fees, sales tax, and other additional charges. Review the contract to make sure your dealer or car owner everything in the paperwork is what has been agreed on. If they can’t explain any additional fee in the sales contract, ask them to remove it.
Be proactive and get the car insured before you drive it away. The importance of transferring the title and registration from the seller to you cannot be overstated, if you’re buying a used car in a private sale.