5 Tips for Buying a Used Vehicle

Buying a used or pre-owned car can be a stressful experience. You can limit the unknowns by doing your research up front, knowing what to look for on a test drive, and honing your negotiating skills. Here are five tips that will help you when buying your next used vehicle.

  1. Pick the Right Car

Most of us would buy a supercar if there weren’t any other restraints. Unfortunately, life gets in the way and we have to take other things into mind when choosing a vehicle. Before looking at car models, write down a list of important characteristics. By carefully identifying what you really need your car to do, it will make car shopping a lot faster and easier.

  1. Check Reliability and Costs

Some cars are more reliable and cost less to fix than others. Use a website like Your Mechanic, which compiles user-submitted data regarding vehicle maintenance costs. While you might not necessarily go for the car that is least expensive to maintain, it is nice to know how much you can expect to spend each year to keep that car on the road. Be sure to factor this number into your budget along with lease or loan payments, fuel costs, and insurance.

  1. Find the Car’s Value

Knowing what others have paid for a specific car can help you when negotiating the price. Use tools such as Edmumds, Kelley Blue Book, and True Car to get a ballpark for what the car you are looking for is worth. You can also use these tools to identify potential vehicles when you know your budget, but you’re not sure what car would be best for you.

  1. Go on a Test Drive

You can tell a lot from a test drive. First, before even getting in the car, do a walk around looking for any dents, paint chips, or other signs of damage. Next, get in and look at vehicle wear and cleanliness. Scrutinize everything. Any deficiency or signs of misuse could point to larger issues with the car. After all that, take the car for a test drive. Listen for any noises that sound out of the ordinary and be sensitive to any vibrations, shimmies, and pulling in the steering wheel. While you’re at it, evaluate the car for comfort. Make note of driver and passenger ergonomics and seat comfort.

  1. Negotiate the Best Price

After you’ve done all your research and a thorough test drive, you’ll have a good idea of how much the car is worth. Use that knowledge to your advantage by negotiating based on the total price of the car. Do not get too attached to a car before negotiating the price. Be willing to walk away if the deal doesn’t feel right to you.

Buying a used or pre-owned vehicle can save you thousands of dollars, but only if you go into the process armed with all the information. The best advice is to know what you want and how much you want to spend. That way, you won’t settle for something that doesn’t fit your needs or puts stress on your wallet.