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Buying a Used Car – Tips and Advice

Tips for Buying a Used Car

Buying a car is a big and expensive decision.  With the shaky economy more people are buying used.  It’s a great way to save money, and if you shop smartly you can find just what you need.  Follow these tips and you’ll find yourself a used car that feels like it was made for you.

Start the Search Early – Sure, there’s tons of used cars for sale, but finding something suitable to your needs takes time so don’t wait until your current car’s final death rattle to start looking.  Start earlier and you’ll be less likely to settle for something you don’t love.

Know What You’re Looking For – Make a list of things that are important to you in a car, like fuel economy, safety ratings, price point, year and mileage.  Come up with some models that meet your standards of driving and travel needs.  Flexibility is key in used car buying, though, and while you never want to sacrifice safety you’ll have better luck if you’re not picky about the little things like color.  If you have a specific car in mind find similar models you’d be satisfied with.

Don’t limit Your Search – Dealerships, independent used car lots, Internet, and newspapers are all great resources.  Sometimes the best resource can be friends and family or someone they know, so be sure to tell people you’re in the market for a used car.

Plan of Payment – Know how you will pay for your new used car, and if taking out a loan be sure you can get one before purchase.  If you are looking for financing, we’ve partnered with the great people at Auto Credit Express and offer same day approvals for drivers with good, bad, or no credit. We recommend ACE, but there are of course other options out there that you can explore. Most importantly, no matter how you pay, make sure the car is within your budget.  Figure what you can afford and stick to it no matter how awesome the car $2,000s over budget seems.

Do Your Homework – If in your search you come across a car you’re not overly familiar with, Google the car make, model, and year.  If you come across a number of reviews stating the car is a lemon or has a problem you don’t want to deal with steer clear.  After looking at a used car you’re interested in, always run a vehicle history report like autoCheck or carfax.  You’ll need the VIN number, which is usually located on the dashboard or inside the car door jam.  Ask the owner for maintenance reports to see how well it’s been kept up and don’t buy a car that’s been in a major accident.

Take the Car for a Spin – With the owner’s permission, test drive the car in the different situations you’ll be driving, like expressway and city driving, paying special attention to the brakes and how the car does on hills.  Keep a lookout for any strange noises or steering/suspension issues.  And don’t underestimate the importance of comfort, you’ll probably be spending a lot of time in the car and if it makes your back sore already or you have visibility problems the car’s not a good match.

Make Your Own Checklist – The list should include things that you’ll need or want when driving but might not use on a test drive, like interior/exterior lights, heat, ac, radio and CD player, windshield wipers, tire tread, etc.  Bring the list when you view the cars so you don’t forget anything.

Have Your Mechanic Check the Car– Anyone who refuses to let you take the car to a mechanic should raise red flags.  They may be hiding something.  It’s important to know the car is in good condition and if it will need any repairs soon.  Make sure you find a reputable, quality auto repair professional to help you assess whether or not the call is in an acceptable condition.  This step is critical.

Negotiate– Most people and dealerships start with an asking higher than their bottom line.  Politely point out why you think the price should be lower i.e. the car needs new tires.  If things aren’t getting anywhere but you’re really interested, you can try asking outright what they need to get for the car or tell them what you can afford.  Often people don’t want to let a buyer walk away.  If the price is still too high, though, don’t go over budget.  There will be other options.

Close Properly– Set up a payment plan or method with the other party involved.  Follow through in the time designated and be sure to follow all the steps as directed by the DMV in your state, like making sure registration is up to date.  You don’t want to deal with any legal troubles simply because you never received the car title. Congratulations!  You’re the proud owner of a car you’ll soon make all your own!  Safe and Happy Driving from!

Note: We will not sell your information to any 3rd party. Your information is collected and only provided to our verified auto repair shops to contact you with a quote for repair work on your car.