Saving money and getting the car you need doesn't have to be mutually exclusive; this is especially true when you buy a used car. It may take some effort to find a good deal, but overall, used cars are a more cost-effective option when factoring in expenses such as insurance, registration, sales tax, and depreciation. Additionally, many cars are now built to last and can keep running for over 200,000 miles with proper maintenance.
To get the best deal on a used car, you should know how the process works and what to look for. Consider the following tips to help you find the best-used motor vehicle:
Sure, you could purchase from a franchise dealer or used-car lot—but they'll often want top dollar for their rides. On the other hand, you're always taking a chance on that private sale.
When searching for pre-owned cars, it's best to stick with dealers who specialize in the vehicle brand you're interested in. Many brands offer Certified Pre-Owned cars (CPO) which are certified by the manufacturer through a series of rigorous safety checks and inspections, and also come standard with extended warranties. Best yet, going directly through a dealer means they can't ignore you if problems arise after you buy the vehicle. A car dealer won't want to tarnish its reputation by selling a problematic used vehicle to the public.
Buying a car from a private seller can be quite a gamble. You might get lucky and find the perfect ride that someone's desperately trying to offload, or it won't last 'til morning - so keep reading on to learn what kind of due diligence is necessary if you decide to go this route.
It's essential to weigh age against vehicle price. Cars that are too new will be expensive, whereas a car that's past its prime may require expensive repairs and be harder to find parts for. That's why TrueCar recommends buying a used car around 3 years old to get the best balance between reliability and cost. By choosing a car that is three years old, you can expect it to be in good condition and cost up to 40% less than its newer counterparts.
It's also essential to consider other factors when purchasing a used car. You need to consider the car's age, mileage, and any manufacturer-made customizations when deciding how much it's worth on the open market. Mileage plays a huge role when it comes to pricing a car. If the car has been well maintained and has low mileage, it could be worth investing in an older model with more features. However, if the car was improperly maintained or has high mileage, it may be better to opt for a newer model with fewer features but better reliability.
Ultimately, finding a fair price depends on your needs and budget. Kelly Blue Book is an online tool to help you accurately estimate the price any car (new or used).
When you talk to the seller of the vehicle, make sure to be clear and concise when asking your questions so they can provide a detailed response. Don't hesitate to ask any follow-up questions if anything is unclear.
The first question you should ask is if the seller is the car's original owner. This will give you an idea of the vehicle's upkeep history and mileage. It's also a good idea to inquire about the availability of service records, which will reveal the frequency and nature of any previous repairs or maintenance.
Obviously you should also verify that the title is clear and that there are no liens on the car. Furthermore, it would be beneficial to ask if any additional information not included in the advertisement could affect your decision to purchase.
Pulling a vehicle history report is an excellent way to save yourself from auto buyer's remorse. It can provide vital information about the car's past, such as its service and repair records, ownership history, and if it was ever in an accident. You can get a copy of the report using either the vehicle identifying number (VIN) or license plate number. AutoCheck and Carfax are two of the most well-known sources for vehicle history reports. Still, many major dealers also offer them free if they have the vehicle in their inventory. If a dealer refuses to give a Carfax or Autocheck report, you should either go elsewhere or look into obtaining one yourself. Don't buy the car unless you have reviewed the history report.
Before taking a test drive of any car, it is vital to give the vehicle an initial inspection. This should include checking for engine, oil pressure, brake fluid, and airbag warning lights. Taking a test drive route that includes curves, rough pavement, hills, and highways is an excellent way to get a good feel for how the car performs in different conditions. Turn off the radio so you can focus on the car's performance.
When test-driving a car, it is also essential to ask for proof of ownership and the insurance policy from the current owner, as you may be liable for damages if there is an accident. Additionally, make sure to ask to see a photo ID and take a photo of it before test-driving the car. During your test drive, inspect the electrical systems, test the steering wheel, heater, a/c, windows and locks, headlights, brake lights, indicators, brakes, stop-and-go performance, and cruise control on the highway. By doing this, you will be able to get a better understanding of the car's condition.
When buying a used car from a private seller, it's crucial to have a mechanic inspect the pre-owned vehicle before purchasing it. After all, when you buy secondhand, you might not get an accurate idea of its condition until you look at the entire vehicle. An inspection can help uncover hidden problems that could cost you down the line if they're left unaddressed. Private-party sellers are usually relaxed about having a car inspected, but dealers may push back. Expect to pay $100-$300 for the inspection fee.
Here are some things you can look for before you give it for inspection:
Return policies are an essential part of the car-buying process. When buying a used car from a dealer, ask them what their return policy is like and get it in writing before purchasing. Some states have regulations requiring dealers to offer buyers three days to cancel the sale and return the car, but the federal government does not mandate this. In other states, only the dealer can offer reimbursement for returning the car within a few days. This is sometimes called a "no questions asked," money-back guarantee, or "cooling-off" period return policy by dealers.
Carefully read any return policy before signing contracts or agreements with a dealer. Ensure you understand all the terms and conditions to make an informed decision when purchasing a vehicle. Knowing your rights ahead of time can help protect you from any potential issues should you need to take advantage of a return policy.
Buying a used car can be tricky business. In the heat of the moment, you can get too caught up in how the car looks and forget to check or be aware of some important details. Failing to line up financing beforehand can cost you more money at the dealership, and buying based on looks often leads to empty promises that don't last past the showroom floor. The best way to ensure you end up with a dependable car is by researching, looking for signs of maintenance, and ensuring it has a CarFax report. And even if it does have all the marks you're looking for, it's always good practice to take it for a test drive before signing any dotted lines at the dealership.