Considering buying a used car? If yes, then you’ll be glad to know you’re not the only one doing it. According to a survey by Edmunds, the market sales for used cars went up by 3.1% last year, with an estimated $40 million units being purchased.

This massive appetite for used cars is credited to the significant savings that buyers make as well as a chance to forego depreciation. On that note, is it your first time buying a used car? Have no fear! Read on for a handy used car buying guide to help you find the best possible deals.

Tips for Buying a Used Car

Even though used cars are cheaper than new vehicles, this doesn’t mean that you can’t save even more while getting one. Below are ten excellent tips to help you get a better bang for your bucks:

1. Create a Budget and Get the Money Ready

The process of buying a vehicle comes with a lot of excitement. However, don’t let this excitement blind you. Take a step back, do your math, and determine how much you can afford to spend on your to-be car.

This is especially important when buying a used car as there is more than the price to consider. For instance, depending on the condition you find it in, a used car might require a few repairs, maybe some new tires, insurance, and the likes. Therefore before you leave your house, set a budget, so you don’t end up with an unplanned expenditure.

Once you determine how much you’re willing to spend, it’s essential that you get the money ready. Even though having your money ready at this juncture might seem a bit early, it makes things smooth-sailing as nothing will hold you back when you come across a good deal. This is especially important if you’re planning on purchasing it on loan. 

2. Craft A List Of Brands

Now that you know how much you’re willing to spend and even have the money ready, the next wise thing to do will be to craft a list of used cars you’d consider buying. This is important because you don’t just want any car, you want one that is a perfect or close fit to your preference and at the same time functional.

For instance, if you’re married and have a family, you need a model that is both aesthetically pleasing and has enough space for everyone. On that note, write down a list of models that fit this description. Narrow it down based on factors such as age and other features you’d love to have on your car.

While crafting this list, keep in mind that some brands, for instance, Toyota, have better-used cars than others. Therefore, have on your list at least three brands that are within your price range.

3. Find A Good Used Car Seller

With your list and budget ready, your next stop should be finding a good used car seller within or near your locality. When it comes to car sellers, you have many options.

For instance, you can check out used car ads on websites like craigslist or check out this car dealer for great deals. Nowadays most advertising is done online so you should be able to find a good seller from the comfort of your home.

However, don’t look at one seller and decide that’s the one, shop around by checking out the inventory offered by other dealers. Once you find one, analyze the stock and review the prices of the models you had on your list earlier and make up your mind about the brand you want.

4. Determine The Value Of The Car

Before you hit the road, ensure you first determine whether the car’s worth its selling price. Again thanks to technology, you can do this at the touch of the button. For instance, sites like Edmunds and Kelley Blue Book offer informative guides that you can use to estimate the right market price.

 While using these guides, consider factors such as year of manufacture, mileage, and condition. Knowing its market value beforehand saves you time because if it’s not worth the price, then you can always go back to step 3 above. 

5. Do Due Diligence

Based on your assessment above, the vehicle might be worth its price, but does it have a clean history? The last thing you want is to end up buying a used car that was totaled or declared salvage by its previous insurer.

You also don’t want a vehicle that has a history of accidents as this will mean high insurance premiums and costly repairs. Therefore, before you make up your mind, do due diligence, and run a history report. You can do this by running the vehicle’s ID on sites like Autocheck and Carfax.

6. Reach Out To The Seller

If the car’s worth its price and has a good history, then you have our blessing. You can now reach out to the seller and alert them of your interest. During this important first call, ensure you inquire about anything you feel was left out of the ad.

For instance, whether they have all its records or whether it has had any other owners before them. If everything goes smoothly during this call, set up an appointment.

7. Hit The Road For A Test Drive

Even though the car might have met all the above criterion and you feel good about the seller, ensure you go for a test drive. Most people overlook this vital step and end up regretting. Don’t be like most people, go for a ride so you can determine whether it’s the right vehicle for you.

For instance, it might be the model you’ve always dreamt of but during the drive you discover it lacks enough leg or hip room for you. A test drive also helps you assess its performance both on and off-road.

8. Don’t overlook an inspection

You can’t determine the condition of the car with a single drive. Sure, it might have performed well on that drive, but what if it becomes problematic after a few days? To avoid this, ensure you have it inspected. Even though this will cost you, spending on an inspection is better than paying for repairs for a car you just brought home.

9. Negotiate

If the mechanic gives you the green light, then it’s time to bring your bargaining skills to the table. Your budget comes in handy here as well as you’ll be negotiating within your spending limits. To get the best price, start with the lowest price on your budget and then negotiate your way to a price that works for both of you.

10. Get The Paperwork Done And Drive Away

Now that the price doesn’t hurt your bank, the next and last step to buy used car is to get the paperwork done.

If you’re at a dealership, sign the contract and if you’re buying from a private seller ensure that the car title and registration are transferred to your name. If you’re confident everything’s okay, then you can drive away a happy car owner.

What’s Next in the Used Car Buying Guide?

Now that you have your used car, how do you take care of it? How can you cut ownership costs? Check out our used car buying guide for answers to that and more used vehicle-related topics.

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