Today’s post comes to us from David of CarUnderstanding.com. He guides us through the process of getting the best deal on a good, quality used car.
If you want to purchase a car yet you are tight on the budget, you may want to consider a used car. However, before you start contacting used car sellers, make sure you have a plan. Do not just jump into that purchase because it’s cheap. You may think that you are in for a real deal but that deal may sometimes cost you an arm and a leg for repairs.
Your guide to buying a used car
Step 1: Plan your budget
How much are you willing to shell out? When purchasing a used car, the face value does not always mean the gross amount. There are other fees that you may need to pay for, which will be discussed later on.
Used cars may also require extra maintenance unless the previous owner kept it well-maintained. Moreover, since you are purchasing another person’s car, you may need to customize it to your preference. Changing the seat covers, adding accessories, and of course purchasing gas when you drive it.
Step 2: Make a list of prospects
Make a list of models that you would like to purchase. Some brands such as Honda and Chevy may be more expensive even if they are second hand. You may also want to check out Certified Pre-Owned cars as the car makers and dealers back these. Keep your list handy, so you don’t get distracted by cheap offers. If you already have a car model that you have set your mind on, stick to it.
Step 3: Check and compare the prices
Now that you have a list of prospects, compare the prices with what’s in the current market. A used car may have a slight difference in price from a brand new car depending on the extras. If you have listed out what you like and don’t like about the cars, that help you trim down your choices. Don’t settle for less. Remember, YOU are the new car owner, and once you purchase it, it’s your responsibility.
Step 4: Scout the used cars for sale in your area
Don’t purchase a car in Florida when you are in California. Get the drift? It would be wise to scout those within your area so you can easily communicate with the seller and inspect the car. You don’t have to spend extra in traveling to a far off place just for a used car; might as well get a brand new one.
Step 5: Check the vehicle’s history
You would want a car that has no bad record of accidents or mishaps. You don’t want to be chased by police because of a violation that you did not commit. Get the vehicle identification number or license plate of the car and have it checked. This provides you with servicing information, and you can also check if the vehicle was properly maintained.
Step 6: Contact the seller
A seller’s disposition is a significant factor when purchasing a used car. If you have difficulty communicating with the seller, chances are you’ll encounter problems negotiating and discussing the car’s specifications. Ask the seller why they are selling the car. Avoid quick deals because the seller may just be eager to get rid of the car because of its problems.
After you have established a good relationship with the seller, set an appointment to inspect the car.
Step 7: Inspect the car and test drive
When inspecting the prospective car, pay attention to the interior, exterior, and performance. Inspect the paint for scratches and dents. Check the tires for wears and bulges. Inspect the trunk if it’s clean and has a spare tire and tools. Inside the car, inspect the seats, floor mats, lamps, and smell. As you turn on the engine, watch out for warning lights that turn on and listen to the sound of the engine. Take note of the mileage on the odometer. Turn on the sound system and air conditioner and see if they are working well. The air coming out of the air vents should not smell of Freon or other chemicals. Test the lighter socket if it’s properly working, too. In some cases, once you plug something in the lighter socket, a fuse bursts – this is a bad sign.
As you take it out for a test drive, see if the seats are comfortable for you. Make sure that the seat’s elevations are just right for you and you have a clear view of the road. Your legs should not feel cramped when driving. Listen to the sound of the engine and pay attention to any sounds, movements, or smells. Test the brakes and acceleration, too.
Step 8: Ask a mechanic or car expert to go with you
After inspecting the physical aspects and performance of the car, a car expert or mechanic can easily point out minute details you may not have been aware of.
Make an overall inspection of the engine, exhaust system, car fluids, belts, and bearings. Check the car fluids such as transmission fluid, engine oil, windshield washer, brake fluid, and coolant.
A car expert may also inspect for signs of corrosion and rust. Corrosion and rust are signs that a car is not properly cleaned.
Step 9: Negotiate with the seller
Do not be afraid to give a ballpark figure. Remember, you are buying a used car because you have a low budget. Consider other costs such as repairs, customization, gas, and documentation fees. This is the main reason why you need to establish a good relationship with the seller.
Step 10: Don’t forget the paperwork
Do not drive off without insurance papers, transfer of title or certificate, and if there are warranty papers. These papers are like the birth certificate of the car. A car without papers is like an illegally obtained car. Other documents that you may need to look for are smog certificate, registration papers, and receipts for sales and license fees.
We hope that this 10-step guide helps you when you purchase your used car. When buying a used car, you may need to pay more attention to details than the acquisition of a brand new car. A seller may omit vital information about the car for the sake of selling it quickly. That is why you have to be equipped with a guide and avoid being fooled by cheap offers and advanced extras in the car.
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Guest Author Bio: David Walker, founder of CarUnderstanding, is a passionate car enthusiast and traveler. He shares great automotive experiences and tips in his blog. If you like to know more about cars and tips, don’t hesitate to visit his blog.