What to Look For When Buying a Used Car: A Quick Guide

The used car market continues to see high demand because of the pandemic. There are about 41 million used cars sold each year, and that number is only going to grow.

There’s a shortage of new cars because of chip shortages and other supply chain issues. The price for a new car also spiked dramatically, leaving many to look at more affordable used cars.

Knowing what to look for when buying a used car is the key to finding a car that’s reliable and affordable.

Buying a used car is always a predicament. You want to spend less money, but there’s no guarantee that it won’t be in the shop a week later.

If it’s time to buy a used car, you’ll want to keep reading. These are the things you should look for when you purchase a used car.

1. Your Used Car Budget

How much can you afford to spend on a used car? Remember that you’re not just thinking about the cost of the car.

There’s car maintenance, insurance, and fuel. You should set aside more money for a used car than you would for a new car. The older the car is, the more likely it will have worn down parts and need repairs.

Car insurance will be more affordable because used cars have less value than new cars. Your insurance premiums will reflect that.

2. Your Credit Score

Since the cost of a used car continues to increase, you’re probably going to need a loan to pay for the car. Be sure to check your credit score.

You’ll determine if you can get approved for a loan, for how much, and what the interest rate will be.

If you have some time before you purchase a used car, take steps to raise your credit score.

3. Target Brands and Models

Do some research on the makes and models of used cars. Get a used car that meets your needs and is known for its reliability.

You may want to get a car that retains its value over time. That gives you the option to resell it without taking too much of a hit on depreciation.

Check reviews of makes and models of cars that fit your budget and have a list of three to four models.

4. Contact Dealers

Used car dealers are a great place to start price shopping. You can check sites that private sellers use to list cars, such as eBay and Craigslist.

You’ll get an idea of the cost of used cars in your local market.

Have a list of questions ready to ask dealerships and private sellers. Gates Auto has a list of questions to ask a dealership so you can quickly find a reputable used car dealership.

5.Inspect the Cars

If there’s a seller that you trust that has a make and model that you want, pay them a visit to inspect the car. You can schedule an appointment at a used car dealership.

Private sellers may prefer to meet in a public place for security reasons. That’s understandable for everyone involved.

Do a thorough inspection of the car. Look at the exterior, and notice any scratches, dings, or rust. Look at the glass for signs of chips and damage.

Observe the tires for wear. Note if a car tire has uneven wear. Test the lights to see if they all work. You can check the suspension by placing pressure on the corners of the car.

Check the interior of the car for wear, damage, and strange odors. Look for wear and tear on the pedals and around the control panel.

6. Test Drive Used Cars

Take the car for a drive. Notice how the car handles on the road. There should be enough pickup to avoid dangerous merging situations on the highway.

Check the overall comfort of the car. Listen for strange sounds, and notice is the car gives off any odors. After the test drive, look under the car for any leaks.

7. Ask About Warranties

You know that new cars come with a warranty. Do used cars come with a warranty? It depends on your location, the seller, and the manufacturer.

Used cars sold by private sellers are sold as-is. That means if the car breaks down, you’re responsible for the repairs with no recourse.

The only way to protect yourself is to have a legal contract that says what’s covered by the seller and what isn’t. Most sellers aren’t going to agree to this.

Dealers will sell used cars with a warranty. Dealers have to have a Buyer’s Guide, which specifies if the car is sold as is or what is covered under warranty.

Some states restrict the sale of as-is cars. They have lemon laws on the books to protect consumers. New York’s lemon law for used cars says that dealers have to cover the engine, transmission, and other main items on the car.

The warranty period is for a limited time, though. It depends on the mileage of the car.

Before you sign a contract to buy the car, be sure to contact your state’s consumer affairs department. Find out what the lemon laws are in your state.

Then ask the dealer what’s covered in the warranty.

What to Look For When Buying a Used Car

Buying a used car is a great way to get reliable transportation and save money. It’s important to know what to look for when buying a used car because it prevents you from buying a money pit.

Make sure you have a handle on your financial situation and research makes and models before you start shopping. Contact dealers and ask the right questions about the history of the car and warranties.

Most of all, take the car out for a test drive to make sure it’s a good fit for you. Are you ready for more awesome car tips and facts? Head over to the home page of this site for more helpful articles.