If you feel overwhelmed by the car buying process, then do not panic. Buying a used car does not need to be a nightmare. There are plenty of good places you can check out to ensure that the vehicle you get lasts as long as you need it. Make sure you read these considerations before committing yourself to buy a used car.
Buying A Used Car: Tips, Considerations, & More
Buying a used car for the first time can feel like one of the most significant decisions you make in your life. While it is a high involvement purchase, it is essential to remain calm. A car is just a car — it is replaceable. Luckily, only by purchasing a used car you have already avoided a lot of hidden costs that come with buying a new car. So congrats!
However, not buying a new car does not mean that you can do no wrong when purchasing a used car. If you are not careful, you might end up with a broken piece of junk. There are essential steps that every person should take before committing to a car. So how do you learn? Luckily, in this article, we give you some tips and tricks for navigating the confusing process of buying a used car. First, let us go over the basics, like what buying a used car entails and where you can find a good deal.
Where and How Can You Buy a Used Car?
First let us cover the basics: where is the best place to buy used cars? Can you trust the local car dealer in your town? The answer depends on each specific case and can be easily discernible if you know a thing or two about cars. By taking the car on a test drive, getting it inspected and checking the history report, you can figure out if the vehicle is worth the asking price pretty quickly. However, for those individuals who are not as confident in their car buying knowledge we have some popular websites or businesses that usually offer pretty good deals on used cars. They include:
- AutoTrader — AutoTrader is kind of like Craigslist, except anyone who posts an ad need to pay for it. This precaution usually keeps out some of the scams or shady deals that sometimes happen with free sites. If you are looking for a more expensive used car, then this website is the place you should look.
- Craigslist — As long as you make sure the deal is legit before checking it out, Craigslist can offer some great arrangements of cheap cars in your area. If you do not find something at first, then make sure you check back later. The site updates frequently and specific good deals could go fast.
- CarMax — This superstore offers a variety of used cars both online and in store. If you are not confident in your haggling skills, then CarMax would be a good fit. They fix the prices they offer and do not negotiate.
- AutoList — Another free list site that collects offers on used cars from different websites in the area and then presents them to you. This website helps to get a good sense of some of the local offers available in your area.
Manufacturer dealerships that offer used versions of their car are another excellent place to look. Often these vehicles come with extended warranties that other seller cannot provide.
Benefits of Buying a Used Car
Besides the obvious benefit of a lower price tag, there are quite a few perks you get for buying a cheaper used car instead of a brand new one. First, the used car you purchased holds a much lower depreciation value than new models. When you drive a new car off the dealership lot, it automatically loses thousands of dollars in profit. In comparison, when you buy used the value will still decrease gradually, but at a much slower rate than a new model.
Another benefit is a lower registration fee on your vehicle. When you register your car, the taxes placed on it often come from the overall worth of the vehicle. As such, cheaper used cars usually get much lower fees when registering at the DMV. Most of the time you can save around one thousand dollars in cost, which, if you want, you can put back into the car’s maintenance.
While a sales tax on a new car might not seem like a big deal, it is usually one of the overlooked aspects of buying a car. The state sales tax on new vehicles from dealerships can sometimes add thousands of dollars to the price tag. In comparison, most used lots are not required to add a sales tax, which means the price you see at the dealership is the price you get. However, the issue of a state tax varies from state to state, so check your state’s law before making a decision.
Another deceptive business practice you avoid when you buy a used car is the adding on of hidden fees. Usual car sellers will often offer every range of cheap add-ons that cost way more than they are worth. However, severe or predatory deals will add on expensive made-up fees like a delivery charge or processing fee. These terms are just made-up ways to squeeze more money out of your purchase, and you can avoid a lot of them by going to a used dealership. While you might miss out on the latest GPS or Bluetooth stereo, you will save a lot of money in a used car.
How to Buy a Used Car
If you need a step-by-step walkthrough for buying a used car, then this section will cover everything that you need to know. It also includes some general tips for surviving each step.
Step One: Pay For the Car
The first thing you need to think about when buying a car is the money. How are you going to pay for it? Do you have some money in savings that you can use? Or will you need to get an auto loan? These are some of the things that you should be thinking about when planning out the finances for your car. If you have enough savings, then the process is pretty straightforward — purchase the vehicle, but keep some money in your account for potential repairs and insurance.
If you need an auto loan to pay for your car, then things can get a little more complicated. The rates and offers you receive will vary depending on your employment record, credit history, and other factors. As such, the loan scenario for each person will vary depending on where you go to finance it. To figure out how much you should pay for an auto loan, try using one of the many loan calculator resources online. This tool will help you figure out how much you can afford for your specific case. However, there are some universals that you can keep in mind when filing for a loan.
First, remember that short term payments always beat out long term payments. With long term payments, creditors can charge you exuberant interests rates. We also recommend getting a loan that involves a down payment. While the prospect of avoiding a down payment might seem like an attractive one, the reality is the down payments offer a nice cushion — and a bit of a head start — when it comes to paying off your loan. As such, we recommend putting one down.
Step Two: Research What Car You Want
The first thing you want to do when researching used cars is narrow your search parameters for vehicles within your price range. Once you do that, you can begin making other decisions. While factors like style and preference play important roles here, you should also think about practical, everyday concerns.
Think of essential questions you can ask yourself while looking. Do you require a lot of space? If you plan on transporting a low of people or equipment every day, then you may want to consider getting a minivan or truck. Similarly, if you only plan on commuting to work, then finding a low-priced hybrid SUV might save you some money in gas over the long run. You probably also want to factor in considerations about safety, comfort and add-on features, like a good stereo or sunroof.
Step Three: Inspect the Vehicle
There are a variety of independent mechanics that offer AAA certified inspections on any vehicle for between one hundred and two hundred dollars. While this might seem like a lot, it will save you a lot of money in the long run if they discover that the car you are interested in contains hidden problems. Trained mechanics can detect potential issues that even the avid car enthusiast cannot spot. If the person selling the car refuses to let you inspect the vehicle, then you should probably take this action as a sign that something is wrong with the vehicle and the seller is trying to hide it.
Step Four: Take the Vehicle for a Test Drive
A test drive will be your first impression of how the car handles while driving. However, you should also take the opportunity of a test drive to test out all the systems within the vehicle. Check and see if the air conditioning, windshield wipers, locks, lights and other details all work correctly. Take the car on the highway if you can and see how the machine handles high speeds. While driving takes note of how comfortable the car is — can you imagine yourself in the seat for long periods?
You should also pay close attention the noises the vehicle makes when it accelerates and brakes. Do the brakes squeak or require you to push down extra hard to engage them? Or are they quick a responsive? Identifying a strange sound might save you from a bad purchase. When you finish the drive, get out of the car and inspect the exterior. Make sure all the exterior lights work and identify any potential scratches, chips in paint or other blemishes.
Step Five: Find the Vehicle History Report
Sites like CarFax offer vehicle history reports on any car for around twenty-five dollars. Vehicle history reports are one of the best ways of finding out who owned your car before you did and what they did with it. The stories use information from insurance providers, policy agencies, the DMV and other sources to compile the most up to date history of the car you are interested in buying — things like previous accidents, damages, title status, ownership, odometer readings, service history, and sale history.
All you need to obtain all this information is the vehicle identification number. This information is all crucial for determining whether the car is a good deal or a hidden trap of maintenance fees and repairs. However, vehicle history reports cannot be perfect. Sometimes information may be missing, or damage might not adequately reported by the last owner. We should also mention that the specific name of the owner does not come included in the report.
Step Six: Decide on a Fair Price
Some used dealerships only offer cars at fixed prices. However, if you buy online or at a local dealer, then odds are you can haggle the price down — especially if you have evidence that they overcharged with the initial asking price. This step is why the vehicle history report comes in handy. If you can point out that the previous owners degraded the value of the car with accidents or other incidents, then you can convince the seller to lower the price.
While intensive reports help during this stage, a general knowledge of used cars is also helpful. Go online and see what other people paid for used cars near the condition of yours. Does the cost listed match the price of the car you want? Simple online searches can be a good way of seeing if the sellers are offering you a good deal or a ripoff.
While a little charisma can help navigate the price in the direction you want, it is also essential that you realize your limitations. Many dealership owners negotiate every day and they are good at it. As such, they can often navigate the process with ease and gradually tip the price in their favor. Make sure you stay awake during the buying process and avoid any hidden, potentially predatory fees. Also, make sure you have a calculator handy when adding up the costs. More often than not it seems that salespeople always end up with more significant numbers.
Step Seven: Sign the Papers
One of the final steps in closing a deal involves sign the bill of ownership. Doing the measure passes the responsibility of property from the dealer to you. As such, you should be positive that you want the car before deciding. If you negotiated for additional repairs on your vehicle, then you should also make sure that these stipulations come included in the bill of sale. Make sure you read each piece of paper they put before you.
Signing so many documents might seem overwhelming, but it is essential that you keep a level head so you can identify any potential mistakes or blank spaces. However, you should keep in mind that the private dealership practices differ depending on the state. As such, you should check the laws of the country you are in so you know what paperwork is required by law.
Step Eight: Get Auto Insurance or Some Other Add-On
Some dealerships offer add-ons that might be useful — like extended warranties or free oil changes. If you can add these on to your deal, then they can save you a lot of money in the long run. Must use cars do not come with a warranty unless you purchase the vehicle from a manufacturer-owned dealership.
Once you finish with the add-ons, then it is time to find an insurance policy. State laws mandate auto insurance, so you will need a plan in case you get into accidents or break down on the side of the road. While some policies might be cheaper than others, it is also important to look at the details included in your contract. This step will help explain why some insurance companies charge more than others.
We hope this article helped teach you a little about the used car buying process. Buying used can be a great way to save some money and get a car in the style you love. On a larger scale, buying a used car over a new car helps reuse an old product while reducing the demand for fresh, resource-heavy goods. As such, you are not only supporting your wallet when you buy a used car, but also the environment. Just follow all of the steps on this article, and you are sure to get a good deal. Good luck!