Many people have a negative association with buying a used car that just isn’t accurate at all. They think that it is inherently risky to purchase a used vehicle, and that it is smart to only spend your money on a new car. While there are some advantages to buying new, there are also plenty of positives that come with purchasing a used vehicle instead. In a previous article, we covered some of the best makes and models to look at when shopping for a used car. In this post, we take a more-general look at the process of buying used and what key elements you should be looking at.
It is important to remember that every used car is different, and each has its own story. Unlike a new car, which has just rolled off the factory line and headed straight to the dealership, a used car has a previous life to uncover. You should make an effort to learn everything you possibly can about a used car’s history before deciding to make it your own – this will go a long way toward mitigating the risk of the purchase.
The first thing you will want to do is verify that a vehicle has no prior accidents in its history. With so many good used cars available on the market, it just isn’t necessary to purchase one that has been in an accident of any significance. Even if the body work has been done and the vehicle looks fine on the outside, it is difficult to know what damage could have been done inside that wasn’t spotted at the time.
There are plenty of services available today that track the history of a used vehicle and inform you of any incidents, such as CarFax. While this may require a small investment while you are doing your shopping, it will be worth it in the long run when it comes time to make your final selection. The cost of using one of these services pales in comparison to the costs that you could incur on car repairs down the line if you fail to do your homework.
Take a Test Drive
No matter what kind of car you are buying – new or used – you should always take at least one test drive, if not more. This is useful for a variety of reasons. First, it will let you determine if you even like driving the car in the first place. If you are uncomfortable in the driver’s seat, don’t like the sightlines, or have any other problem with the vehicle, you can simply move on to the next.
Another advantage of a test drive is that it will allow you to get an idea of the performance of the vehicle. If there is anything wrong mechanically, it will often make itself known while driving. Listen for odd noises coming from the engine, or take note if the vehicle is pulling to one side or the other as you drive down the road. Anything out of the ordinary from a performance standpoint could be a sign of further trouble.
Make Sure it’s a Good Deal
Don’t assume that just because you are buying a used car, you are getting a good deal. Thanks to the internet, it is easy to research how much a particular vehicle should cost based on condition, mileage, etc. Take a few minutes to compare prices from other similar used cars in the area to make sure you are being treated fairly. Never be afraid to ask for a better price either – the worst that can happen is you will be turned down and have to continue negotiating.
Consider Certified Pre-Owned
Many car dealerships carry used cars under some kind of ‘Certified Pre-Owned’ program. In some ways, this is like blending the benefits of buying new and buying used. These cars have usually be inspected at the dealership, and may even come with some form of a limited warranty. Be sure to ask about the terms of the program with any dealer who you are considering purchasing from.
By taking this route, you can potentially save money over buying a new car while still getting some of the same protections – specifically, a limited warranty. You might find that the used vehicles offered at a dealership under this kind of program are not as cheap as you can find elsewhere, but that extra cost could go toward your peace of mind.
Buying a used car doesn’t have to be the risk that many people make it out to be. Sure, it might take a little extra legwork compared to shopping for a new vehicle, but the savings usually make it worth your time. Take the steps outlined above to sort through the market and find a used vehicle that is perfect for you and your family.