July 24

Your Guide to Purchasing a Pre-owned Car


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Your Guide to Purchasing a Pre-owned Car

Are you on the search to buy a used car, but find yourself lost in the car shopping desert, trying to find your treasure? There are a lot of amazing deals on used cars, and with the Internet emerging as a top tool, your chances of finding what you want are probable. However, the key is doing the right research. You want to make sure what you are investing in won’t end up costing you later.

There are a lot of incentives for buying a used car. You can save money on car insurance, registration, and taxes. And that lower price tag will draw you in. So, what’s stopping you from buying that pre-owned car you’ve got your eye on? Just a few, simple steps that will ensure you are making the best buying decision.

Know and set your budget. Figure out your monthly income; factor in your monthly bills to see what disposable income you have to spend, and how much of that you can budget out each month. You will also need to consider general maintenance costs such as tires, oil changes, battery and filter replacements. Depending where you purchase the car from, maintenance may be taken care of prior to the sale, but keep in mind that these costs may arise.

Create your wish list. Decide what qualities and functionalities you are looking for. Do you need a truck because you are in construction? Do you have a family, and need a lot of space? Or, do you live in a cold climate and absolutely need seat warmers? Maybe the signature design on that pre-owned Audi you’ve been eyeing is exactly what you want, regardless of functionality. Either way, think about all of the features you are looking for and decide your ‘needs’ versus ‘wants’. This will narrow your search, and ultimately help to make your decision easier.

Start the search. There are many websites to find used cars, where you can match up your desired features, make, and model with your price point. Some of the top known sites are Craigslist, CarMax, Kelley Blue Book, or the desired dealership’s website. Sites that have owner reviews and testimonials are ideal when searching online. While you want to ensure the reliability of the car, the same standard should be held to the owner. You should also consider expanding your search beyond your local area. You may find the car of your dreams outside of your city limits—and that picture perfect pre-owned Audi or used Jetta is just a road trip away.

Research the vehicle history report. All vehicles can be run through a history report using the vehicle identification number (VIN). CarFax is a highly recommended site for this. You will be able to see ownership records and accident history. Most of the time, you can see maintenance history as well, which will help you know that the car was upheld and maintenance was done on time. Also, consider the climate of which state you are purchasing from since natural disasters can cause wear and tear on the car.

Contact the seller. This will allow you to verify the listing, and also ask important questions before scheduling a test drive and negotiating price. According to AutoGravity Corporation, some of the most important questions you should ask when purchasing a used car are:

  • Does the car have a clear title?
  • Does the car have a spare tire and jack?
  • When did the car last go through safety and emissions testing? Did it pass?
  • Is there a return policy or a repairs policy if I discover anything wrong with the car after buying it?

Test drive and inspect. Schedule a test drive so that you can get a feel of how it runs. This will also give you a chance to do your own inspection. Obviously, if you are not a mechanic it won’t be a legitimate inspection, but make your best judgment and take note of any concerns. On your own, you can test things like blind spots, brakes, radio system, heat/AC functionality, and the interior space. If you have any doubt, inquire with the seller on getting an inspection.

Negotiate. Do your research on the price. How does the seller’s asking price compare to the average market price? Consider any concerns you may have, and reference back to the vehicle history report and your wish list. Ensure that you know what you are buying into, and what price you are willing to settle on.

Purchasing a car can be a stressful process, but when done with the correct research, you will leave with your precious treasure. One that serves its sole purpose of getting you where you need to be, safely and reliably!




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  1. Thanks for these wonderful tips. I know my daughter will be looking soon for a new used car. I will share this with her.

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