10 Must-Know Tips When Buying a Used Car

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Get a Good Deal at the Used Car Dealership

There are stereotypes about used car dealerships for a reason. It’s because in years past, before modern technology dominated the world, it was easy to get swindled when looking for a quality pre-owned car.

Today, however, car shoppers like you are much more in control of the situation thanks to websites like vehiclereport.me, you can use it to learn more about the vehicle you’re thinking of purchasing. By following these tips, you could drive away in a used car without buyer’s remorse or regret.

1. Read Dealership Reviews Online

Before the internet, people had to ask their friends and family for their recommendations for used car lots. But if you didn’t know anyone who had recently purchased a used vehicle, it could be hard to gather information about dealerships in your area. Thankfully, websites like Yelp, Facebook, and Google can give you guidance on which used car dealerships to visit and which you can skip, based on other peoples’ experiences there.

Read multiple review websites before you decide to shop at a dealership for a used car. Observe whether the dealership responds to negative reviews, and what they say when they do. Do they seem to correct any issues or perceived issues? Are they kind to their reviewers? What are the reviewers saying? Make your own judgments based on what you read. For example, a Ford dealer in Kansas City might have all five-star reviews, and so you’ll want to shop their used vehicle inventory because you know they pride themselves on customer satisfaction.

2. Know the Kelley Blue Book Value

The Kelley Blue Book website is valuable for used car shoppers because it can give you an idea of how much money you should expect to pay for a vehicle based on its year, make, model, condition, mileage, and features.

Before you visit any dealership, check on the Kelly Blue Book value of any vehicle you’re considering. Overpriced vehicles could indicate the used car lot is looking to take advantage of you, or that they’ll use high-pressure sales tactics to force you to haggle to reach a reasonable price. A simple search on KBB can save you a lot of heartache, time, and frustration.

3. Know What You Can Afford

There are so many car loan calculator tools online that it’s easier than ever to estimate how much of a car payment you can afford. Find an online auto loan calculator, enter the list price of the vehicle, your down payment, and the loan interest rate you can expect to get, to determine how much your monthly payment could be for a particular used car.

Then, compare that number to your monthly budget, which should take into account all the costs you must pay: rent or mortgage, utilities, insurance, medical, clothing, groceries, entertainment, other loans, and anything else you pay for each month. Does this monthly payment fit into your lifestyle? If not, you should look at used cars that cost less. When you know what you can afford, you can efficiently narrow down your vehicle search.

4. Ask for a Copy of the Vehicle History Report – and Read It!

If you’ve found a vehicle you’re interested in, always ask the dealership for a copy of the vehicle history report associated with the car’s VIN, or vehicle identification number. The salesman should never hesitate to offer you this document. And, if one isn’t available, it’s likely a red flag that you should be looking elsewhere to purchase a used car.

When you receive a copy of the report, be sure to read it over carefully. Check for regular maintenance records, as well as any major repairs or body work the vehicle has required during its lifetime. Not every repair or maintenance visit will be recorded in the report, but it can give you a good idea of where the vehicle has been and how it’s been treated. Auto accidents should also show up on this report.

5. Check the Vehicle’s VIN on Your Own

Even if you’re handed a copy of the vehicle history report, do your due diligence to confirm the contents of the report. There are multiple websites you can visit to look up a vehicle’s history for free.

This extra step is worthwhile because it allows you to double-check the information you were provided and verify the VIN and the history of the vehicle you’re considering.

6. Take a Thorough Test Drive

When you’ve found a used vehicle you like, always ask to take it for a test drive. Your test drive should consist of you starting up the vehicle for yourself. If they show you the vehicle, and it’s already running when you approach, go ahead and shut it off and restart it.

During the test drive, ask to take roadways with curves and those with higher speed limits. If there’s a highway nearby, ask if you can get on it. You want to know how the car drives in various conditions, and the test drive is really your only way of discovering that.

7. Talk to a Trusted Mechanic

Many people like to make an appointment with their mechanic to have them look over a used vehicle before they purchase it. A mechanic with a good eye can find mechanical flaws with a vehicle that you can either ask to be repaired before you purchase, or that will let you know it’s time to walk away and move onto a different vehicle.

8. Bring a Friend or Family Member When You Shop

Especially if you’ve never purchased a used car on your own before, bring along someone you trust to help you decide and watch for any red flags you might have missed. An extra person might also come up with additional questions to ask the salesman about a vehicle that you might have forgotten in the moment.

9. Bring Your Vehicle’s Title With You

If you’re planning to buy your new-to-you car and intend to trade in your older one as part of your down payment, you should bring along the title to your current vehicle. If you should be able to complete your purchase on the first day of car shopping, you can hand over the title once you accept your trade.

This will eliminate an extra trip back to the dealership and show that you’re serious about purchasing a vehicle.

10. Bring Your ID, Proof of Income, and Down Payment With You

Another way to show you’re serious about purchasing a used vehicle is to come fully prepared to answer all the dealership’s questions, particularly if you’ll be applying for financing through their relationships with third-party financial institutions.

Having your photo ID, pay stubs from the last several pay periods, and your down payment will make used car shopping easier and faster.

You’re Ready!

Now that you know our ten tips for buying a used car, you’re much more prepared to walk away with a quality used vehicle you love, at a price that fits into your monthly budget. We hope you can close a good deal on an awesome used car, truck, or SUV. Good luck car shopping!

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