Although buying a used car is a clever way to save money, it takes more time and effort to get a good deal than when buying a new one. The moment someone drives their brand new purchase out of the showroom, it starts to depreciate fast. It’s clever to let someone else take the steep depreciation heat by owning your dream car for a few years.
How will ensure you save a fortune when it comes to buying a used car?
Well, that will squarely depend on how you choose a used car. Make the wrong choice, and that brand new car you avoided will seem like a deal in hindsight.
Read this used car buyer’s guide to help you make the right choice.
1. What’s Your Budget?
You need to first set your budget. Setting the budget goes beyond just looking for a car with a reasonable monthly payment. You need to consider the entire price of the vehicle, including the total of funding the purchase and remember the possibility that it may require costly repairs in the future.
An older car will likely be sold at a lower price. This seems attractive but unfortunately, such a car is likely to require expensive repairs. Does this mean you should go for newer ones? The trick is to strike a balance that will make sure you don’t lean too much towards any side.
A seemingly sweet deal won’t seem any sweet when you’re stuck waiting for a tow service instead of rushing to the interview.
2. Make a list of Must-Have Features
This is a list that will help you pick your car. How do you intend to use this car? Is it for family use? Is speed your top priority? Is safety your main concern? Do you want enough room for your friends plus adequate cargo space to accommodate all your camping stuff?
Your needs will determine the must-have features. Using the above list, narrow your search to focus on models with those features. You can shop now from this wide selection of both new and used cars.
3. Check the Price
Once you find a car that meets your expectation, use the online pricing guide to establish the estimated value of the specific car. The pricing guide estimates the market value of used cars using factors such as mileage, age, and options.
Therefore, as you check the price, make sure to include:
Year, make and model information of the car: Some of the pricing websites used the word ‘trim level’ to refer to the model.
Mileage: The price of a car is usually adjusted according to its mileage. Standard annual mileage is about 120,000 miles. Anything less or more will definitely influence prices.
General Condition of the Vehicle: Be keen as you include the condition level as the difference between ‘outstanding’ and ‘clean’ for instance could easily be above $ 1000.
Options: This refers to the unique features installed when the vehicle was manufactured. Features such as navigation system influence the price of the car.
Most pricing guides have divided their search into two categories. If the seller is your friend or neighbor, search on ‘Private Party’ category. If you intend to buy from a dealer, search on the ‘Dealer Retail’ category. Using the price guide, you can also know what the vehicle is worth as a trade-in.
4. Locate the Car
Do you have any idea where you’re going to find a used car in your area? Do you want to use the traditional way of asking ‘around’ or simply go online? Going online is quick and you have a high chance of getting exactly what you want.
When conducting an online search, you can filter your search by factors such as price and features, the car’s mileage and the dealer’s distance from your home. There are so many websites for used-car, and each website has its unique feature.
5. Inspect the Car
This is where the fun begins. Will you get exactly what you saw online? Is the car a comfortable fit? Are the seats in the right shape or are they torn? Inspect the ceiling, the doors, and the floors.
Are there stains or tears? Are you comfortable with how the car smells? Does it smell of mildew or cigarette? Some of these smells are difficult to remove.
Now, inspect the exteriors. What’s the condition of the tires, the muffler, and the car lights? Are there dents, scratches or evidence of repair? Check the bumpers, the trim, and the paint job.
Inspect the car’s engine. If you see a dirty engine, it’s likely that the car is poorly maintained. If you see oil on the engine, it’s likely there are leaks. Washed-out belts and hoses can be expensive to fix, and it’s an indicator the car was poorly maintained.
6. Request for Vehicle History Report
Before you jumped inside the car to take that much-anticipated test drive, ask the seller to give you vehicle history report. This report will reveal if the car has a clean title or has been involved in any major accidents.
If you doubt the seller’s report, you can get yours. You just need the vehicle’s identification number (VIN) to conduct your own search online.
The vehicle history report will indicate if the car has a salvage title. These are cars that were involved in a terrible accident but they are still drivable. Insurance companies brand such cars as ‘’salvage’’ to alert potential buyers.
Avoid cars with a salvage title because the car might have hidden complications plus such cars have no resale value. You need to invest in a car with resale value.
This report will protect you from fraudsters. Shady dealers might tamper with an odometer to increase the car’s selling price to unsuspecting clients. You will also learn how many times the car you’re interested in changed owners.
7. Time for a Test Drive
Here comes the most anticipated hour. Until now, you are yet to drive the car you’ve chosen. This is the hour to decide if this particular vehicle is worth your dollars. Choose a route that is a ‘cocktail’ of terrain: Stretch of the highway, rough pavement, hills, and even hills. Switch off the radio- it’s time to put your ears to better use.
Do you hear any unusual vibrations or noises as you drive? Are the brakes responsive and reliable? Can you reach all the controls and gauges without difficulties? What is your visibility like?
When negotiating sharp corners, does the steering still feel strong? Does the car have power when dealing with hills? After this drive, blast the music system and check if Bluetooth connects to your devices.
Has This Used Car Buyer’s Guide Helped You Get the Car of Your Dream?
Hold on, don’t be in a hurry since there is one more thing from this used car buyer’s guide you need to know.
Before assuming ownership, you should add this car to your insurance policy. Ensure the seller signs the title correctly. You can now pay for the car but only if you have no doubt. Sign the sales contract and drive your car home.
You’re welcome to check out our blog on negotiation tips for buying a car from a dealership.