Buying a used car is a great way to get a your dream car while saving thousands of dollars. In fact, according to the National Automobile Dealers Association, the current auto sales market indicates prices of used cars going down by as much as 7% in 2016. However, unlike brand new cars which don’t have thousands of miles worth of wear and tear and unexpected quirks in their hundreds of moving parts, if you don’t do adequate research, you could live to regret your used car purchase. Here is a quick checklist of steps you should take while shopping for used cars:
- Make a list of your must-have features. What are your biggest priorities? Is fuel economy important to you? Maybe you’re looking for something with low mileage. Perhaps you want luxury used car; maybe it’s your dream to drive a Cadillac. Take note of your most important car features and what your budget is, this will help you remain objective while car shopping.
- Check multiple sources. There are a variety of sources for used cars which provide varying prices, quality, reliability. Because you can easily find an awesome used car an unlikely source, you should get creative while car shopping. In our Cadillac example, you could start by searching “Chevy car for sale” on Craigslist and eBay. Pay a visit to a used Chevy car dealership on a regular basis. You could even keep an eye on the “Chevy car” section of the classifieds in your local news paper. A great deal could pop up unexpectedly and won’t last long!
- Compare prices. Used car prices vary widely. You can get an idea of the pricing from Kelly Blue Book, but keep in mind that each car has a specific set of pros and cons that impact the value, and each car seller has a different business sense for what they want for their car. Get a high and low range so that you are confident in the price you are willing to pay for your car.
- Review car history reports. Once you have a prospective car, obtain a history report on it to make sure there are no red flags that will cause issues down the road. A car history report will show you if the car has been in any wrecks, if the mileage has been tampered with, and if the title is clean. The car might be an awesome deal because the title is reclaimed.
- Have someone who knows cars give it a once-over. When you find the car you think you want, take the time to closely inspect it in person. Even if you aren’t a car expert, you’ll be able to inspect the exterior and interior for flaws, check the functionality of the windows, lights, and electronic features yourself. If you don’t know cars, it’s helpful to bring a person who will be able to distinguish issues with the mechanical elements. Make sure they check the engine, hoses, belts, and battery.
- Make an offer and negotiate. Utilizing the car value research you did initially, make an offer to the seller. Don’t be afraid to make an offer lower than you are willing to pay, so that you have room to negotiate. After you submit an offer, you will probably get a counter-offer; repeat this process until you both agree on a price.
Do you have experience buying used cars? Do you have any great sources or negotiation tips to share? Leave a comment below!