Every year, tens of millions of people in the U.S. buy used cars. Are you considering investing in a used car for yourself or a family member?
Buying used cars might seem like an intimidating experience at first. You might even be worried about getting swindled by a shady salesperson like Harry Wormwood.
The good news is that there are lots of reputable, honest salespeople out there who can help you find a good car. There are also some strategies you can use to avoid driving away in a car that’s barely holding on.
Read on to learn eight helpful tips on buying used cars that will simplify the process for you and ensure you get a great car.
1. Know What You Want
When you’re ready to start shopping for a used car, it helps to spend some time thinking about your priorities.
What do you need and want from your new-to-you car? How many seats do you need? Are there any special features that you must have?
Once you know what you want, you can start doing research to find a car that fits your needs.
If you walk into a dealership with no idea what you want, you’re going to feel overwhelmed. You might even allow yourself to get talked into a car that you never would have considered otherwise.
To avoid this and streamline the search process, know what you want before you head to the dealership.
2. Know What You Can Afford
In a perfect world, we’d all be able to buy whatever kind of car our heart desires, regardless of the price tag. We don’t live in the world, though. At least most of us don’t.
Unless you have a rich uncle who’s financing your purchase (and, if you do, you’re probably not going to be shopping for a used car), you’ll need to think about your budget when you begin the search process, too.
Be honest about what you can afford to pay for a car. Remember to factor in other costs like insurance and gas, too.
3. Assess Your Financing Options
Once you’ve done the math and figured out what you can afford to spend, you might need to start looking into financing options, too.
If you’re planning to take out a loan to buy your car, you’ll need to do some research to find the best lender.
It helps to get pre-approved for a loan before you head to the dealership, too.
Once you’ve been pre-approved, you’ll know exactly how much you can spend on a car. You’ll also avoid getting saddled with less-than-ideal financing from the dealership.
4. Research Each Potential Car
When you have a car or two in mind that you want to purchase, it helps to do some more research and check out its Carfax report.
This tells you everything you need to know about the car’s history and lets you know if it’s ever been involved in an accident.
Some dealerships will run a Carfax report for you, while others require you to do this on your own. Either way, you definitely shouldn’t skip this step.
5. Take It for a Test Drive
Be sure to take the car for a test drive before you agree to purchase it. Make sure that everything feels right when you’re driving it and listen closely for any strange noises.
Drive the car in a variety of environments, too. This includes driving it on the freeway, on surface roads, etc. This will help you get a better feel for how it handles different situations.
6. Invest in an Inspection
You should always have used cars inspected before you buy them.
When you first find a car that interests you, you can do a basic check of the interior, exterior, and engine. It helps to have a qualified, credible mechanic perform a more in-depth inspection, though.
Don’t take the seller’s word that there are no problems with the car. You have every right to do your own research and make sure it’s in good shape before you buy it.
7. Don’t Worry About Buying Certified Pre-Owned
Some people think that it’s essential to purchase certified pre-owned vehicles. This isn’t actually the case, though.
As long as you’re shopping with a reputable car dealership, you don’t need to worry too much about investing in a certified pre-owned car. These cars are more expensive than other options, and your selection will be more limited.
If you do decide to go the certified pre-owned route, remember that the other tips on this list still apply.
You still need to get it inspected and take it for a test drive before you spend your hard-earned money on it.
8. Get an Extended Warranty
If you’re considering purchasing a car that isn’t covered by the manufactures warranty any longer, it’s a good idea to purchase an extended warranty. This will help you avoid having to pay for expensive repairs later on if something goes wrong with your car.
The manufactures warranty usually expires within three or four years. If the car you’re looking at is older than that, ask about the types of warranties that the dealership offers.
It’s especially important to pay for an extended warranty if you’re purchasing a car from a private seller. Cars from private sellers are always sold as-is, but investing in a warranty can give you some extra protection.
Learn More About Buying Used Cars Today
The process of buying used cars can definitely be an overwhelming one.
If you keep these eight tips in mind, though, you’ll have a much easier time sorting through all the options available to you and making the right decision for yourself and your family.
Do you want to learn more about buying used cars? Do you need help finding a used car dealership in your area? If so, we’ve got resources to help you.
Check out our business directory today for more information or to find a dealership near you. You’ll be driving away in a new-to-you car before you know it!