Not everyone can afford a brand new vehicle, so used cars are a constantly growing market. Here are ten steps you should take when you set out to buy a used car, covering everything from credit monitoring to signing on the dotted line!
Know Your Budget
The first step when you buy a used car is to know what you can afford. It is important to separate total cost from payment. You might be able to get really low payments, but if the repayment term is very long, you could end up shelling out more for repairs that could put you over the top. Check out online budget calculators and get a handle on your finances before you do anything.
Know What You Want
Put together a list of makes and models of cars that appeal to you. Understanding that used inventory consists largely of what is available at the time, sort the list from your first choice to your last. It is important to prioritize; you want the best car you can get.
Do Your Research
Do intensive research on each of the cars on your list. Read reviews and look up local prices on the vehicles in which you are interested. Focus specifically on used car reviews and breakdowns, and especially those in the years you are considering.
Track Down the Cars
Source cars in your area. Find dealers that have the vehicle you are looking for in stock. Look at online inventories and call the shop. Make notes on the vehicles like mileage, condition, age, repairs undertaken, etc.
Ask for Vehicle History Reports
See if the dealer is willing to provide a vehicle history report on the car. If they are not, that could be a red flag. Ask for the car’s VIN and run one yourself if need be. Make sure the car you’re getting is not a lemon and has not had tons of major accidents.
Work with the Seller
Try to establish a relationship with the seller. Get to know them as much as you can so you can have a good feeling about the person from whom you are buying. You want to feel you can trust them.
Before you start negotiating a price or even before you get behind the wheel for a test drive, secure financing for your vehicle. Talk to your bank, credit union or a used car loan financing company.
Take a Test Drive and Get an Inspection
Never buy a pre-owned vehicle based on its looks. Make sure you test drive it to get a feel for how it handles, and have a pre-purchase inspection completed by a mechanic you trust. If the dealer resists this, it is a red flag.
Negotiation can be a stressful process, but it is vital to getting the best price for your car.
Buy a Used Car
Close the deal and sign on the line! Congratulations! You have got a new-to-you car!
If you are in the market for a new car and need financing, we can help. Read some more car buying tips and contact us for help today!