Buying a used car is a spectacular way to save money. New cars lose a significant portion of their value the moment they leave the lot, meaning that used car buyers can get a significantly better deal. That being said, used car buyers who don't do their due diligence can end up with a car that is worth a lot less than what they paid - especially after spending on repeated repairs.
To help you get the best deal, we've put together a few tips that could help you through the process of buying a used car.
Be willing to walk away
Many first-time used car buyers end up making a rushed, impulsive decision that they later regret, according to Jalopnik. If you aren't certain about the deal you are getting, you feel pressured, or the car is not in the same shape that was advertised, the smartest move is to simply walk away.
Examine the car
With used cars, especially those that are sold by individuals instead of dealerships, there is little guarantee that the car is in good shape. The Federal Trade Commission recommends that buyers use an inspection checklist, which can help them to know that important parts are in order.
It is also recommended that buyers have a mechanic take a look at the vehicle before making the deal. Be wary of mechanics recommended by the seller - they could be good and honest, or they could be in league with a sketchy seller.
If you can, it is also a good idea to get a hold of the car's maintenance records, according to the FTC.
Do your research
Research is always important when making a large financial decision, and buying a used car is no different. Choose the make and model that you are interested in and then research common problems, typical repair intervals and costs, general auto insurance rates, and price points. Certain vehicle factors could also drive up your insurance costs. Not only will you be able to make a more informed decision on your purchase, you may find yourself in a better position to negotiate price.
Jalopnik recommends looking into online forums, which are filled with knowledgeable people who may be happy to help you. If you are lucky, you may even find someone willing to volunteer their time to helping you find your next dream car.
Decide your budget ahead of time
Before you even begin looking for a car, it is important to know how much you can spend. A number of websites can help you calculate the down payment and monthly payment for a car of a certain price, which, combined with a car insurance quote, can help you get an accurate picture of how much you will be spending.
Once you decide on a budget, stick to it. According to Jalopnik, too many people pick a reasonable, fiscally responsible budget, only to spend far more money on a car that appeals to them on that day.
Test drive the car
When you take out a car that you are considering purchasing for a test drive, it is important to really get to know the car. While it is also vital to get a sense of how you feel driving the car, your first priority should be dependability, according to the FTC. Try to test the car in a variety of situations, like on the highway, going up and down hills, and in stop-and-go traffic. This will help you to get a more accurate picture of the car's condition, and may help you negotiate from a stronger position.
Buying a used car is a stressful process for some buyers, but with a little bit of work, you can get a great car for an even better deal.