It can be the best decision you’ve ever made - or the worst. Buying a used car can feel like a minefield. You want to get a good deal on a car and maybe avoid the higher cost of something brand new, but you also don’t want to buy a lemon or get taken for a ride on a car that isn’t what it seems. How do you navigate the tumultuous waters of buying a used car? Try following these steps to keep your car buying experience safe and productive.
- Do Your Research. Figure out the type of car you need, the level of mileage with which you’re comfortable, the fuel economy you’re looking for, and the pricing you can expect to find out there. Review the reputation of various used car dealerships and do plenty of browsing online to see what’s out there. Start with the Blue Book and work your way from there.
- Be Flexible. It’s time to determine what is truly important to you and what can slide. If you find the make and model you’re looking for can you handle if it’s a little older? Maybe as long as it still has low miles? Are you willing to check out a different but similar make and model? The likelihood of finding your ideal make, model, mileage, color, year, and features is pretty low. Determine which features are most important and how much they mean to you.
- Drive it Yourself. When you find a car in which you’re interested, drive it yourself. You were probably planning on it already, but it’s important to make sure you drive it the way you would drive it if it was your own. This means you don’t just take it around the block. Drive it around the neighborhood, on the freeway,
- Get it checked out. Take it to your local shop and have a trusted mechanic give it a solid once-over, inside and out. Just because you like how it drives and it hits everything on your checklist doesn’t mean it’s actually perfect. You have no idea what the engine looks like. Does it have buildup? Friction? Radiator damage? You might not be able to tell this from a test drive or a CarFax, but it’s important for you to find this out. You could get a screaming deal on this perfect used car only to find it completely dies on you a few months later. Don’t let that happen to you.
- Sleep on it. Often a used car dealership or private owner will try to rush you to make a purchase. This can be because it’s a bad deal, or maybe just because they’re a pushy salesman. Either way it’s important to not let that affect your decision. Don’t rush. Take your time and sleep on it. If the choice still feels right then it could be an excellent decision. If you’ve cooled on the decision then that’s a good indication that it’s a poor choice!
Good luck in your used car search! May you find the car of your dreams!