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The Right Way to Buy a Used Car

Posted on by Defensive Driving | in Car Stuff, Drive Like ME, Everyday Driver


We’ve all heard the horror stories when it comes to used cars, both from the seller and buyer’s point of view. As such, people treat used car buying as a lottery, not knowing what they’ll really get. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Instead, use these three helpful tips when shopping for a used car.


Know where and what to buy


Firstly, it’s important to do your homework beforehand. Know which make and models to avoid as well as what to check when doing your research for a used car. A typical checklist may include: mileage, condition of the interior (look for tears, smells, etc.), engine and transmission, tires wear and tread, scrapes and paint on the body of the car as well as service documents. Lastly, be sure to take a test drive and listen for the engine and odd sounds.

As for where to buy, you have many options. The safest bet is through a dealership, but it’s also the most expensive. There, you can get office car history reports, take a test drive, obtain a warranty and even negotiate the price. For a more cheaper route, consider buying at an auction. Although you can inspect the car before the auction, once you’ve become the winning bid there is no warranty or return.


Check vehicle history report


Next, before you sign for a used car or even take it out for a test drive, be sure you’ve checked the vehicle history report front and back. The best sources for vehicle history report are with AutoCheck or Carfax. These reports show vital information about the used car, such as open recalls, if it has a salvage title or if the odometer has been rolled back.  


Know how to negotiate


Lastly, it’s important to know how to negotiate once you’ve found the right car. When at the dealership or lot, don’t settle on their asking price. Instead, use your research and see what the auction prices are for vehicles similar to the one you’re interested in. It’s also important to lower the price down for cars with high mileage or expect a higher price with cars with added options. And remember that manual transmission vehicles compared to automatic have lower market values.


When at the dealership, take advantage of secret discounts. Carbuyingtips.com explains, “TrueCar has deals with many dealers to give special discounts if you make contact through their site. Vehicles with discounts are highlighted in the search results. Due to legal issues, the discount is disclosed after you make contact with the dealer. You will pay less than somebody buying the exact same car without having visited TrueCar.”


Don’t be afraid to ask questions during the negotiation process and if you can’t test drive a car, leave the seller immediately, since it’s probably a scam. If you’re not happy with the way the negotiation price is going, walk out!

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