Used Car Buyers' Guide
A guide for the choices you will make when buying a used car. Learn how to avoid common pitfalls when purchasing a used car.
Transportation is so important in today's society. Without readily available transportation you are limited to walking, taxis, or busses. If you can't afford, or don't like new vehicles, you will be looking for a used vehicle. Finding a good used vehicle is not hard, but like anything else will require some homework on your part.
Choosing a dealer is probably the most important aspect. A good reputable dealer will help you find a vehicle that fits your needs and budget. They will also not be willing to sell you a vehicle that is not mechanically sound. Finding a good reputable dealer requires you to talk to friends, family, and check with your local Better Business Bureau. Find out what they liked about a particular dealer, what they didn't. After all you are an individual and what suits you may not suit someone else.
Before you go to the dealer, decide how much you can afford in monthly payments and talk to your financial institution about financing. Sometimes the dealer's financial sources can get you a better interest rate, other times you are better off getting your financing through your financial institution. Look around and find the best deal. Sometimes longer payment periods are more beneficial but watch that interest rate. When calculating your payments don't forget to look at insurance and maintenance for your vehicle. This will add to the monthly cost of your vehicle. If you can just afford the monthly payments but can't afford to put insurance on the vehicle, you won't be driving it. If your vehicle is financed remember that you will be required to have full coverage for the length of the finance period.
Think about what you need a vehicle for. Going to work and the store, long trips, hauling or a combination of all the above? This will help determine what type of vehicle you get. Look to see what your chosen dealer has available. If they don't have what you are looking for they maybe able to get it for you. It should go with out saying the broader your expectations the more likely you are to find what you need. Decide ahead of time what features you must have and which ones you can live without, or add at a later date. A car dealer is in the business of selling vehicles, so be realistic about what you want, and need before you go.
When you talk to the sales person, be realistic about the price you are willing to pay for the vehicle of your choice. Consider the amount you are having financed. A larger down payment will cut your financed amount considerably, and can lower your monthly payments putting a wider range of cars within your budget. Check the blue book value and make sure you take the vehicle to a mechanic for a mechanical check. If you don't like something about the vehicle, let the dealer know. They might be willing to correct a problem or lower the price in order to make the sale. Don't expect to get the vehicle for less than it is worth. Be willing to give a little, but don't go over your budget. If you can't work with the dealer, don't feel you have to buy a vehicle from them, there are many dealers available, find a dealer that will work with you.
If you have the time and patience look at several vehicles before you make your choice. Sometimes the vehicle you think is perfect is not the best choice for you. When you take a test drive consider the type of driving you plan on doing. Do you drive mainly in the city, or are highways more your style? Where at all possible test the vehicle in the type of driving you will be doing. If something about the vehicle makes you uncomfortable consider looking at another model.
A vehicle is a major purchase and you will be paying on it for the next several years, so insure that you are happy with your choice. Be willing to give a little, and work with the dealer to find the best possible choice for you.