What You Need to Know Before Buying a Used Car

The vast majority of individuals buying cars opt for a used car. Many people cannot afford the high ticket price of a new car or the financing required for such. However, buying a used vehicle can be very difficult for different reasons. Consumers want to be sure they are making a worthwhile purchase, especially since this is generally such a large purchase. When shopping for a used car, there are many things a consumer should consider. It can be a very rewarding experience if you know the right questions to ask and the right information to seek.

Researching Your Used Car Purchase

When beginning the process of buying a used car, it is important to do research. There are various websites available for individuals in this part of the process. Edmunds.com and Cars.com are great resources for finding reputable dealerships, available vehicles, and valuable pricing tools. Surprisingly, eBay can also be a worthwhile resource. eBay can provide information about selling prices for various vehicles at different dealerships so you can easily compare.

Another important first step in this process is to compile a list of appropriate and essential questions to ask. Some things to consider include mileage, interior, any necessary repairs, the condition of the title, and history of the vehicle. This is just an example of some things that should be considered – you’ll certainly have a lot of your own personal preferences for the car you want and these will change the questions you want to ask.

During this step, it is important to remember what vehicle features and attributes are desired. The color may be an important aspect to one individual, while another may only care about the technological features the vehicle provides. It is important to make a list of the desired vehicle features you want so you can narrow it down to a few models. This can also change the price point on a vehicle, so be sure to know which features are necessary and which can be discarded.

Consider Your Budget

As the last step before really starting to look at dealerships, it is important to consider how much you can afford. Setting a budget does not just include the price of the car itself though. An individual needs to consider any fees like taxes and registration. Other considerations include any cost for inspections or car history reports. There are many financing options available, and it is important to consider each one to determine which may be the best for each individual case. When these considerations have been figured and a price has been decided, the buying process can really get started.

Individuals can begin to look at specific dealerships to find the car they would prefer and pricing they desire. It is vital to discuss what fees each dealership may charge, on top of any fees for the vehicle itself. Some charges include applicable taxes, registration, and insurance. Some dealerships require an individual provide proof of insurance before completing the buying process, so that is an important factor to consider. Dealerships should be able to help an individual understand and plan for all of these prices. Each person should be sure to ask for a breakdown of all of these prices.

Buying Your Preferred Used Car

Once a car has been chosen and all fees have been discussed, it is a good idea to obtain a vehicle history report for the specific car in question. This can be done by using the VIN to obtain a report from companies like CARFAX or AutoCheck. Most dealers will be happy to provide this information; however, consider it a red flag if a dealer refuses to or is reluctant to provide necessary information for this report.

Along with the vehicle history, it can be very helpful to have the car inspected by a mechanic. A mechanic can provide vital information about any prior repairs, current issues, or possible repairs necessary in the future.

The test drive is one of the most fun parts of buying a vehicle. This part should not be taken lightly though. Individuals should be sure to check the exterior and interior for any damages and be sure all features are working both internally and externally. This can be an important part of the car’s inspection, being sure all essential functions perform well.

If the used vehicle has passed all of these tests, individuals can proceed to the final steps in the process. Look into obtaining the title. Ask any necessary questions about liens or loans on the car. If the vehicle still has a lien or loan, it can cause trouble when the buyer tries to obtain the title. This can be a big red flag. One other final step involves warranties. Ask questions about whether or not the used vehicle is covered by any warranty - whether it is a manufacturer’s warranty, third-party warranty, or no warranty. There may also be some options for extended warranties, so it is important to ask questions about what may be offered.

Lastly, the most important thing to remember when buying a used vehicle is to remember that this is a process. Individuals that seek to get the best vehicle possible while still maintaining their budget need to really go through the whole process. This will take time. Do not walk into a dealership, having done very little preparation and research, with the mindset that a car will be bought that day. Do the research. Put in the time. Remembering that this is a process will ensure each individual makes a smart purchase.