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How to Buy Used Cars: 7 Steps to Buying a Used Car with Confidence

If you are looking for the best way to buy used cars, look no further. This seven-step checklist will help you buy a used car without being taken for a ride. Whether you are looking for a late model sedan for the family or a sporty first car for a teenager, these tips can help you get the most for your money while keeping your loved ones safe. The secret weapon you can bring to the table when buying used cars is information. Read on and become a smarter car buyer.

  1. Begin your search. Start your search in the local paper, online or with your contacts. If you arenít sure what car you want, searching online comparisons will give you an idea of the models that can best fit your needs. Websites like Carsdirect.com and Usedcars.com can help you get a feel for the prices on different models. Also, as simple as it may sound, spread the word to people you know that you are in the market for a used car. Itís always surprising how many options (and gems of advice) you can get. How to Find Actual Used-Car Prices
     
  2. Narrow your choices. Once you have decided on a few cars, research their pros and cons on a website such as Edmunds.com. Ask people you know about their experience with these cars. Even if they didnít drive them, they may have friends who did.
     
  3. Gather information. When you have found the perfect car, do your homework. Has it been in an accident or suffered other damage? The Experion AutoCheck Vehicle History Report will check the vehicle identification number (VIN) and give you this history. Get unlimited 60-day access to the site, which will let you check several different cars.
     
  4. Test the information. Donít make a deal without taking a test drive. If you are buying from a private seller, take him or her with you in the car to answer questions as they arise. If you are buying from a dealer, check for a ďBuyers GuideĒ sticker on the car Ė every reputable dealer will have one. The best-case scenario is to have the car inspected by a mechanic before the sale. If you canít take the car to a mechanic, see if you can bring a mobile inspector to the car.
     
  5. Negotiate your deal. Depending on your personality, this part is either fun or agonizing. The dealer probably paid at least $2,000 less than the listed price for a used car and will expect a negotiation. The average mileage is 12,000 per year, so anything over that will bring the carís value down. Know what that particular car is worth before you make an offer. 5 Signs of a Reputable Used-Car Dealer
     
  6. Get the money. Donít use cash as your down payment Ė use a credit card if possible. Many banks wonít loan money for cars over five years old, but you can often find lenders online. Capital One will finance person-to-person loans on their website.

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  7. Complete the sale. If you are buying from a private party, the sale is always ďas-is.Ē Several websites have sales contracts that you can print to make the sale more formal. If you are buying from a dealer, get at least a 30-day warranty or you will have no recourse. In any sale, be sure to get the title! If you donít get the title, you donít own the car, no matter how much money you have given the seller.

Many people cringe when they buy used cars, but with the right information, you can be the lucky one who gets a good deal. Knowledge is power, so arm yourself by learning as much about the particular car as you can. New cars lose much of their value the minute you drive them away, so buying used cars is a more financially savvy decision. Do your research, and your next used-car buying adventure can be fun and exciting.

 

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