Shopping for a used car can be somewhat intimidating. If there’s an ever exploding collection of makes and models in the used market, it’s nothing compared to the sheer selection of cars in the used one. Here are a few tips to get a handle on buying a used car.
What’s Your Budget?
It all starts with what you want to pay. The sheer variety of used cars and availability means that you can find a car to suit pretty much any budget. But before you even think about cars, you should have a sense of what you can afford. Look at your budget and where a car payment fits into it, and get quotes on used car financing. Once you know your purchasing power, you’ll be able to use it effectively.
Know What You Want
There are so many cars available that you need, before anything else, to whittle down what you’re looking for. What type of car do you want in your driveway? Are there any extras that you might want to have on board? How “used” should your used car be? What makes and models are you most interested in? A little research now will save you quite a bit of work later, so put in the time and pick out the cars you’re most interested in.
Research Your Candidates
The next step is to look into the specific cars. A used car is a unique entity; it’s been driven for a few thousand (or more) miles, and may have experienced anything from one or two minor dings and dents to being completely totalled and refurbished by a garage. Fortunately, you don’t have to wonder about this; each car has a unique history tied to its VIN number, and you’ll be able to determine which cars have been treated well and which should stay on the lot.
You should also look into your car’s future. While predicting the maintenance and declining value of cars is not an exact science, you should be aware of how much your car will cost you to keep on the road, and what it might be worth when you decide to sell it. Also make sure you look up fuel economy; if gas returns to its record highs, you don’t want to be left with a car you can’t afford to put on the road.
Look Up Dealers
Just like there’s an enormous number of cars out there for you to browse, there’s a seemingly endless number of people selling them, ranging from Craigslist sales to the used-car sections of professional dealerships. No matter who you plan on doing business with, before you so much as call them, look up what others who have done business with them have said. While the stereotype of the shady car dealer is largely just that, it’s still a good idea to know who you’re doing business with.
Be Ready To Negotiate
New cars are somewhat controlled in their pricing; after all, the dealership has paid a set price for the car. Used dealerships have much more latitude, and it’s called an “asking” price for a reason; don’t hesitate to see what a dealership can do for your wallet.