Buying a used car is the logical step to take for most people as a new car will have its value depreciate quickly and a car lease doesn’t make economic sense for many people. Buying a used car has many considerations and nuances associated with it and requires real effort on the part of the buyer to get right.
Set your budget
Only you will understand your budget and ability to pay for a used car. There are many used cars that can be had for a relatively small price including cars with prices of less than a $1,000 that their owners are simply looking to unload. There are also cars that are only 10-20% below the original car price or, in the case of antique or limited edition cars, those that sell for above their original price.
When choosing an used car you should be cognizant of both your needs as a driver as well as the cash you have available. Understand if you are going to need a loan to finance the car purchase. Use a car loan amortization tool to calculate your future car payments and see if they are affordable. Keep in mind that if you buy a very cheap car then you may end up paying more for maintenance and repairs over paying more upfront.
Choose the right car
You will need to find the right car for your needs. Consider the age of the car, how long you will need the car, and the size and model type you prefer. The age of the car, it’s condition, and the look and feel of the vehicle are all important considerations. Consider the car accessories such as radio system, safety add-one, and interior when buying a used car. Car electronics may not seem like a must but can be a true difference maker in how you enjoy your vehicle.
Check reliability and ownership costs
How reliable a car is and the cost of maintenance and repairs should be part of the equation when buying a used car. Older used cars tend to have more maintenance problems. Fancier used cars may have higher car insurance. Consider the full cost of the ownership of the used car.
Check the vehicle history report
Try one of the vehicle history reports out there like CarFax which can provide you with the history of the vehicle, any accidents the car was in, and an estimate of the true mileage on the car. The cost of a vehicle history report is immaterial to the price of a used car and a worthy investment.
Go on a test drive
More than anything else you will want to see how the car drives with a test drive. Pay attention to the noises that the car makes and see if the car accelerates and stops well and if there are any smells that are emitted during the test drive. Ask the owner questions about the car and try to learn about the quirks of the vehicle as well as its history. Even guarded car owners looking for the best price on their used car will open up in conversation and often say more than they intended to.
If you still have questions after a test drive ask to bring the car in for an inspection at your car mechanic. This can highlight problems that may not be evident during the test drive.
Negotiate the best price
If you are still interested in buying the car you will move onto the next step; negotiating a price for the car. Understand the blue book car value and then negotiate down from there. Consider any imperfections in the car and use this as a way of dropping the price further, but if you are really interested in the car you should be prepared to make an offer and buy it the same day you test drive it. Put that on the table too and use it to negotiate a lower price as well; many owners looking to sell a used car will appreciate the ability to get rid of their vehicle, whether you are buying from a car owner or an used car lot.