If buying a shiny new vehicle is not in the cards for you, or you are one of those people who just likes to save money, you want to be smart about your used car purchase. Horror stories abound about lemons draining bank accounts; you may dread having to deal with aggressive, smarmy salesmen—though, they are not all like that.
While there is no way to guarantee anything in life goes 100 percent smoothly, including the purchase of a used car, there are things that can be done to tilt the odds of getting a solid vehicle in your favor. The first thing you want to bone up on is common mistakes people make in your situation so you can avoid them.
Waiting Until You Absolutely Need a Car to Begin Shopping
For some of you, you may already be here, but for those of you who are still pondering the purchase, and chugging along in your current vehicle, this is an important point to keep in mind. You will best stay in control of your purchase when you are not feeling desperate because you absolutely need a car right now because yours just went to automobile heaven. You can take your time and weigh your options; you can more confidently negotiate with dealers.
Not Comparison Shopping
It is all too easy to end up buying a car at the first dealer you visit, even though you told yourself you were only going to look. Those salesmen are good, aren’t they? Or, you have an idea what you want, but didn’t do one bit of research on the going rate for these cars. You shouldn’t head to the car dealer completely blind.
Many people buying a used car make the mistake of not comparison shopping. Not only may it prevent you from getting the best car for your needs, you may end up paying much more than you should. With endless information about cars available to you online, it is very easy for you to see their value, and what they sell for in your region. Looking at used car ads in sites like Craigslist can also give you a good idea of what vehicles are selling for where you live.
Not Checking the History Report
When it comes to buying a used car, you don’t want to take anyone at their word, whether a dealer or a private seller. This is not about being a cynic and assuming everyone is a liar, it is just good sense when buying a used car. A vehicle history report will let you know if the car has ever been in an accident, a natural disaster, or had the odometer changed. You can also find out if it was ever used as a rental, or if it was a lease-return. A dealer should have this available; a private seller may not, so either request they give it to you or purchase it on your own through Carfax or Autocheck.
Skipping the Mechanic’s Inspection
Cars eventually need work, and if you are buying a used car, it probably already had some done, or may need some right now. There is a chance certain repairs may not be too far down the line, and they may not be ones you want to deal with. If you are not getting a mechanic’s inspection before forking over the dough, you are making a big mistake. Many auto shops provide these pre-purchase reviews for a low cost; go to a shop you trust, or get a friend to recommend one.