Buying a used car is more economical than buying a new one. A new car’s value depreciates with each passing month. And many of the used cars being sold with a lower price tag than their brand-new counterparts don’t even look much different. Use the following tips to help you find the car that is the best bang for your buck.
- Set a budget
Set a limit to how much you’re willing to spend for a used car. It’s better to pay in cash to avoid interest, however, if you’re getting a loan, make sure that the monthly car payment will not exceed 20% of your total monthly income. Also make sure that you find the lowest interest rate since you’ll also have to spend money on gas, maintenance, and insurance.
- Do your research
Before buying a car, you probably already have a certain model in mind. Research about the model you want and look for at least two other alternatives that fall under the same category and budget. Find everything there is to know about these cars—common problems, typical repair costs, and such. Check information from blogs and forums with topics specifically about those used car models.
- Compare prices
Prices for used cars depend mostly on where you’re buying. Look around before you settle with an offer. You can search online and from other local dealers or sellers too. Don’t buy the first offer you get unless you’re sure that it’s lower than the usual price.
- Know if a used car is certified
Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) vehicles are a good option when buying used cars. This kind of used car is offered by car manufacturers with almost the same benefits as that of buying a new car. What’s great about CPOs is the fact that they’re subjected to a series of inspections in order to assure quality and safety, and they also have extended warranty periods. Look into all the details the offer includes and analyze if it’s worth it with your budget.
- Seek advice from online forums
An enthusiast forum is a great place to look for used cars. Moreover, you can expect other people to join in the conversation and offer friendly or expert advice to help you gauge if the car you’re aiming for is a good choice for a used car or not. Buying from an individual through forums might help you get a better deal since you can chat and haggle with the seller.
- Get a vehicle history report
A vehicle’s history shows how it was taken care of by the previous owner. You may be buying a used car, but you wouldn’t want to get a battered vehicle just because of the cheap price as the upkeep can get cost you more money. What you want to look for is a car in great condition – better if it’s almost as good as new. You can choose to skip getting a vehicle history report if you personally know and trust the individual you are buying from.
- Call the seller
Calling the seller before actually meeting up to confirm the details about a car you’d like to buy could save you time in case the seller didn’t post some vital information that might change your mind. You can also ask the seller basic questions through the phone but don’t settle for any price until you are able to examine the car personally.
- Test drive the vehicle
Making a checklist before going for a test drive is the best way to ensure that you won’t forget anything you want to check. You’ll also get to know more about the car you’re interested in because you’re not just sitting and going for a ride, but actively examining the car according to your checklist. You may want to include the following questions:
- Are the doors, windows, locks, seats, and other hardware working properly?
- Are the brakes squeaking or pulsating?
- Are there unusual sounds or trembling motions?
- Can you smell gas or anything foul?
- Have a professional examine the car
Having a trusted mechanic inspect every bit of the car before you purchase it will ease your mind of anything that you might have missed when you examined the car yourself. In the absence of a mechanic, you can look for local shops that do a pre-purchase inspection. It costs more than hiring a mechanic and is typically around $100-$200. Not having a used car inspected before buying it is not a risk worth taking.
- Be willing to let go
If in the end, the vehicle didn’t live up to your standards, do not purchase it. You’ll eventually find the right one and you might regret it if you spend your money on something you’re not entirely happy with.
Buying a car is not a simple decision. It takes a lot of research to know which one is the right choice. Take your time and don’t get pressured by any sales pitch. After all, the amount you’re going to spend is not just a few hundred dollars but so much more.