Buying a car can be one of the priciest purchases of your life, so it’s no wonder you’ll spend hours researching car prices, getting insurance quotes, and talking to lenders. Sometimes, though, all it takes is a little creativity. The big name dealership isn’t the only place to buy a car.
Be willing to compromise. If you’re looking to get a good deal on a car, you can’t afford to be picky. Be honest with yourself. Does your car really have to be a particular shade of red? Do you really need heated seats and a sun roof? Chances are, you don’t. Decide what details you’re willing to compromise on, and those that you simply won’t let go.
Look into government auctions. Your county could be getting rid of a handful of police cruisers, school buses, or trucks, and they’ll likely do so in one big batch. While you’ll know the entire history of the car (how it was maintained, used, and fixed) you won’t be able to drive the car before you buy it. If you can, have your mechanic accompany you to the auction. They’ll be able to point out minor or major issues, and could provide you with an informal estimate on the spot.
Be wary of public auctions. Although you still won’t be able to drive a car before you bid on it at a public auction, you also won’t be able to verify the history or condition of the car, unlike a government auction. Cars at public auctions may look shiny, but they’re often ticking mechanical time bombs. One scam to be wary of is “title washing.” According to usa.gov, by moving a car from state to state, scam artists will attempt to conceal a vehicle’s history of damage. Every state documents titles in a different way, so scam artists will try to “wash” out the title branding of a salvaged or damaged vehicle, and then sell the car to you. For tips on buying a used car and for links to research a car’s title history or accident record, visit usa.gov.
Use your network.Check out your local dealership’s selection of used vehicles, but utilize your network of friends and family too. They might have a connection at a local dealership, or know of someone who is looking to sell their personal vehicle. Depending on the situation, a private owner could sell their car for much less than it is worth.
Buy online. Many sites allow you to compare prices and models across multiple dealerships, saving you time and gas in your search. Some online dealers will also arrange for the car you purchase to be sent to their local office, which saves you transportation costs (though you’ll have to be willing to wait a bit for your car to arrive).
Know the vehicle factors that could drive up your insurance. There is an intricate set of factors that may influence your auto insurance rates, including the car’s age, weight, style, history, and everyday use. Understanding the vehicle factors that could impact your rates will not only help you decide what type of insurance coverage is best for you and your car, but also what type of vehicle you might want to avoid.
So get creative. Don’t limit your search to the big name dealerships in town. Look for “For Sale” signs in rear windows, explore the deals at government auctions, and search for online bargains outside your zip code.
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