The Dos and Don’ts of Buying a Used Car
Buying a car of any kind is a tricky process, but purchasing a used car instead of a new car can be even more complicated. Instead of heading to a dealership, you’re browsing used car lots, the internet, and even the streets of your neighborhood to find the right car at the right price. It takes time and great effort to find the car of your dreams in good condition — and from a reputable seller.
Instead of trying to master the used car buying process on your own, follow these dos and don’ts to ensure you get the best vehicle for you.
Do Get a Vehicle History Report
Even if you’re buying a car from someone you know and trust, you should always get a vehicle history report for any used car you’re considering. This is one of the first steps you should take — you’ll want to see the report before you even go see the car. These reports reveal important information about the vehicle, like if it has a salvage title, rolled back odometer, has ever been in an accident, or comes with other issues. You’ll only need the car’s VIN to get started, and many online used car ads will post this information in the ad.
Don’t Assume Certified Used Cars Are Best
A certified used car sounds great — after all, it’s certified! However, this doesn’t mean a car is a great deal. Depending on the program or dealership, it might mean absolutely nothing. Many certified used car programs provide only a powertrain warranty with factory backing. Another commonly misleading used car program offered by dealerships is the Certified Program. These used cars are actually previous rental cars. The interior can be damaged and often, the cars have gone many miles between service intervals as they’re rented out repeatedly.
Do Take a Test Drive
When you’re finally out to see the car and everything else has checked out, you should always take the car for a test drive. However, there’s a right and wrong way to take a test drive. Ideally, you want to take the car both on a city street and on the freeway. Take note of how the car drives. Do you smell anything odd? Hear any squeaking or squealing or grinding? Does the car drive smoothly, or does it shake? Test controls like air conditioning, heaters, power windows, cruise control, and wipers. You should also take a look under the hood to see if anything is amiss.
Don’t Take The Car to The Seller’s Mechanic
No matter who you’re buying a used car from, never take the vehicle to the seller’s recommended mechanic. Instead, insist on taking the car to a mechanic you know and trust. This quick inspection can uncover serious problems that could make a used car a clunker instead of a great deal. A reputable seller or dealership shouldn’t have any problem with this; if they do, that’s a red flag.
Do Your Research
In order to get the best deal on your used car, you’ll need to do a little research. This holds true whether you buy a used car from a dealer or a private seller. First, find out what a good price is for the vehicle you’re looking at in your area. Remember that price also strongly depends on features and condition of the vehicle. If you’re buying from a private seller, find out this information from their ad or by asking questions over the phone or email.
By doing due diligence in inspecting your potential used car and knowing facts, you can not only save money but also end up with a reliable car sure to last a long time.
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