Buying a used car rather than a new one from a dealership can save you a significant amount of money. In fact, it is the single most effective way to reduce the cost of a vehicle, and if you find a good deal, it is often a better option than buying new.
When you buy a new car from a dealership, its value drops substantially the moment you drive it out of the lot and will depreciate further within a couple of years of ownership. However, you should remain cautious when searching for a second-hand vehicle. Here are some things to look for when shopping in the used car market.
Determine Your Budget
Whether you are looking to buy a used car outright or are considering financing options, it is crucial to identify your budget for a vehicle before you begin looking.
Used cars will often need some maintenance after purchase because of their prior use. Therefore, you should factor the costs of any repairs or replacements into your budget.
If you plan to take a credit-based financing option, consider the amount you have for repayments. A good rule of thumb is to avoid paying more than 10% of your monthly take-home wage on installments, but even less might be necessary if you are on a budget.
Shortlist Suitable Models
Before you look for a car, consider what you will need from a vehicle. For example, if you plan to use it to do the school run, you’ll want to make sure you find one with enough room for the whole family.
Another thing you might want to think about when choosing the model is its safety. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety provides a detailed rundown of crash test results, a valuable tool if safety is a priority.
Overall, when choosing models that are right for you, it can be helpful to build a list of must-have features. Many second-hand selling websites have tools that allow you to narrow your search by features to find something that suits your needs.
Inspect the Car in the Daytime
Before putting any money down on a used car, you must inspect it. This is true whether the vehicle is listed by a dealership, a friend, or a stranger from the internet.
Car inspections are standard, and most people know to do this before exchanging money for a vehicle. However, it is less commonly known that the weather conditions when you look at a car can influence how you perceive it.
Take care to inspect the vehicle during the daytime on a clear day. This will provide adequate light for you to spot any possible issues with the interior, the bodywork, or the paint. Additionally, rain can hide myriad problems such as scratches or dents.
When taking a look at the vehicle, inspect every panel and all of the interior trim. A used car will likely have a couple of scratches, which may or may not be important to you.
When checking over the vehicle, it is essential to confirm that all of the switches, accessories, and dashboard lights function. Don’t forget to check whether the electric windows work as well!
Test Drives are Essential
One of the most important aspects of purchasing a new car is confirming that it drives and handles without significant issues.
Be sure to note how easily the vehicle starts, whether there are any unusual sounds while driving, like knocking in the engine and pulling when steering. All of these could signify a deeper-lying issue with the car that could be costly to repair, so beware if a deal seems too good to be true.
However, if you have found a deal you simply cannot pass up, but the car needs some repairs, then consider campanellas.com. Experienced mechanics from organizations like Paul Campanella’s Auto & Tire Center will thoroughly inspect the used car’s engine, replacing any malfunctioning components to deliver a smooth driving experience.
Check the Car’s History Report
You can use the vehicle identification number (VIN) of the car you are looking at to generate a detailed history report. Running a check is an essential step when deciding whether you should seriously consider investing in the vehicle.
You can learn a lot from a history report, but here are some of the main things you should keep an eye out for. Firstly, you can check whether the car has been “totaled” by an insurance company in the past. While this doesn’t necessarily mean the vehicle is undrivable, it will dramatically reduce its resale value, and there might be underlying issues.
History reports are also an excellent way to catch shady sellers. A common scam is to wind back the odometer on second-hand cars to increase their value. Vehicle history reports can help you to avoid scams like these.
More helpful information like how many times the car has changed hands, how often it was taken into the shop for a service, and whether maintenance was done on time might be included in the report.
Negotiate the Price
The beauty of purchasing a second-hand vehicle is that there is room for maneuver with the pricing. For many, the negotiation stage of buying a car can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be, especially if you’ve done all of your research.
Compare how much the seller is asking for to the average price for the model on car sale sites. If you know that the seller is asking for too much, there will be some wiggle room. Also, make use of the information you have gleaned from test driving and inspecting the car. You can point out minor issues to the seller, which may give you more leverage when negotiating.
There is a subtle art to negotiations, so you might not always reduce the price significantly, but it is nonetheless worth an attempt.
Once you have done your research, tested and inspected the car’s condition and history, and negotiated a fair price, it’s time to close the deal. You should add it to your insurance policy before taking ownership. Finally, exchange the money and register the car in your name.
Featured Photo by Tomáš Hustoles from Burst