Buying a new car is expensive. Even if you can afford one, the cost of gas, maintenance, and insurance quickly add up. But what if you could buy a used car instead? Buying used can save you thousands of dollars and make owning a car possible for those with smaller budgets.
Fortunately, there are lots of places to find quality pre-owned vehicles at affordable prices. With some expert advice, patience, and these handy tips, you too can find the perfect used car for you. Here are some ways to buy used cars like a pro!
Consider the Long-Term Costs
One of the biggest reasons that buying used is a great idea is that it saves you money in the long-term. When you buy a used car, you won’t have to worry about things like gas and maintenance costs. And if you take care of your car, it can last for many years.
If you take good care of your car and only drive it for 5,000 miles per year, it could last up to 20 years or more! That would mean much less money spent on gas and maintenance over time.
Plus, when you’re looking at a pre-owned vehicle, there’s no pressure or hassle from a salesman who wants to convince you to buy something new. You can focus on the cars that interest you and make your decision without feeling pressured by someone else.
Research Used Cars Online
The Internet is a great place to start your research. You can find lots of information online about the cars you’re interested in and the dealerships where they’re available.
Before you make any purchases, take some time to research what you want and where it’s available. Online reviews and websites like TrueCar help you learn more about potential cars and dealerships.
You can also use sites like Kelley Blue Book to inspect a car’s value before making your offer. And don’t forget to look at maintenance records from the past few years. This will tell you if there are any major expenses that may come up in the future for this car.
Read the Fine Print
Before you visit a dealership, read the fine print on the vehicle to make sure there are no hidden issues. The best way to do research is to visit Kelley Blue Book’s website and lookup the car model.
Kelley Blue Book will give you information about the car’s price, mileage, fuel type, color, transmission type, engine type, and more. You’ll also find details about what condition the car is in–new or used–and its value.
Once you have the information you need from Kelley Blue Book, go to different dealerships and look for cars that meet your needs. Then compare prices between different dealerships.
When you’re looking at a specific car at a dealer’s lot, look for any known damages or defects that might not be reflected in their pricing. It’s important that you know exactly what you’re buying so there are no surprises later on!
Negotiate a Good Deal
It’s always a good idea to negotiate the price of any used car you’re considering. However, if you want to buy a used car, you need to be very careful.
For starters, make sure the dealer is an authorized dealer. If they are not, they may have gotten their vehicles from auctions or other business practices that are unsafe or illegal.
Next, consider the vehicle’s trade-in value. This is important because it will help you determine what you can expect for your trade in should you decide to sell the vehicle later on.
Finally, trust your gut! If something doesn’t feel right about the situation or there’s something that doesn’t add up, don’t be afraid to walk away and come back another day when you’ve reviewed the situation with someone else.
Know your trade in value
Whether you’re buying a used car or trading in your old vehicle, you’ll need to know your trade in value.
First, figure out the vehicle’s market value by researching comparable models and their prices online or through a local dealership. You can also call a few dealerships to ask what they would offer for your car.
Next, decide on a monthly payment that is affordable for you. Some lenders will allow you to finance up to 100 percent of the purchase price — minus what your trade-in is worth — so it could be worth asking the dealer about this option before negotiating with them.
Finally, come up with an offer that is 30 percent lower than what the dealer offers you for your trade in. If they won’t match this price, go down another 5-percent each time until they do.
When negotiating a used car deal, always start at a higher price and go down from there to get closer to your desired price point.
Know your credit score
You might know your credit score, but do you know the make and model of car that corresponds to it? Because there are different factors that can determine your car loan eligibility, it’s important to understand which vehicles are within your price range.
One way to figure this out is by looking at your credit score. It’s a three-digit number that ranges from 300-850. A higher score indicates that you have a good payment history and are less likely to have missed payments or be delinquent on any accounts.
Your credit score affects what kind of financing you qualify for, so knowing the make and models associated with each score will help you find cars affordable enough to buy. If you have an excellent credit score, for instance, expect to find more luxury vehicles near the top of your price range. On the other hand, if you have a poor credit score, expect to see more economy vehicle options near the bottom of your price range.
Want to know where your credit stands? You can check it for free at Credit Sesame!
Find out if it’s a good time to buy a used car
When you’re about to buy a new car, many people will tell you to wait until next year for the newer version to come out. If you’re shopping for a used car, this advice can be applied as well.
You should know that during the first few months of the year there are usually more cars on the market since people are getting rid of their old cars at the end of the calendar year. When you take advantage of this higher volume, it’s easier to find a better deal.
Plus, if it turns out that there’s not anything available in your budget, then you don’t have to worry about missing out on a great deal because you waited too long!
Get an Inspection
You’re not buying a used car without inspecting it first.
If you don’t want to end up with an expensive mechanical nightmare, it’s important to look for warning signs. Take the car for an inspection before you make an offer, and make sure everything is up to your standards.
An inspection can help you find any problems with the car, like issues with the engine, transmission, or brakes. It’s also a good idea to check for any major dents or scratches on the exterior of the vehicle. If it doesn’t seem like much has been done to maintain the car, that may be a sign that this isn’t the right purchase for you.
Create a Budget
Before you start shopping, decide how much you are willing to spend. Stick to this budget! As tempting as it can be to buy a car that costs twice as much as what you planned on spending, having a set budget will help you avoid overspending. Keep in mind that the price of the car will only increase with time.
Create a list of must-haves for your ideal used car. This will help narrow down your options and make it easier to find the perfect vehicle. For example, if safety is your number one priority then choose a bigger vehicle with good safety ratings.
If you’re unable to afford an entire new car, choosing used can still save you money! Just remember: Set a budget, stick to it, and make sure safety is important!
Buy with Confidence
The best way to find a quality used car is to buy with confidence. When you buy with confidence, you’ll be less likely to buy a lemon.
When you’re looking for your next car, try to find one that’s been checked out by a mechanic. A reputable mechanic will check the vehicle over and provide you with documentation of what they found. You don’t want to end up buying a car that breaks down on the side of the freeway before your warranty expires!
A mechanic can also help you spot mechanical issues that are hard to spot at first glance. Just because it looks good on the outside doesn’t mean there isn’t something wrong with the inside.
Of course, not everyone has access to a professional mechanic they can trust (or afford). If this sounds like your situation, take the vehicle for an independent inspection before making any offers on it. If you’re still unsure about getting it checked out, look for cars under $2K; these are usually easier to fix than ones worth more than that.