Buying a used car can be a bit of a minefield. We all know (or have been) the person who bought a car as a private sale and within a few days things started going wrong. Most of us will have also bought a second-hand car that ran like a dream and never caused a single bit of trouble!
If you want a used car that is going to be worth your money and last you for a while, then you need to put a little work into it. There are various car buying guides out there which offer advice, and most can be diluted down to a few key points.
Setting a Budget
Before you go looking for a car, make sure you know how much money you have to spend. Keep in mind that you will have to pay an initial down payment that is likely to be larger than the monthly payments. But don’t just plan for that first payment. Make sure you can keep up with the payments before you agree to anything. If you can’t, you may end up losing the car and all the money you put into it.
Keep your budget in mind when you go out looking for a car, and don’t compromise on what you have allotted yourself. You may be tempted by some flashy, feature-filled car, but you have to be sure you can afford what you are getting.
Take Your Time
You also don’t want to agree to buy a car on your first visit to the dealership. Consider each first trip as an information-gathering endeavour. You aren’t there to buy a car just yet. Find out which cars are in your price range, then go and take time to look into these cars and how well they perform.
What you are looking for are potential problems. Some cars have known problems, and you want to be careful thatyou aren’t buying something that will break down on you later. You can ask the dealer if they are aware of these problems with the vehicle you are considering and if the vehicle has been checked for manufacturing defects for which it may be known.
Just because there are defects, it should not mean that you dismiss the car entirely. But you do want to negotiate the price down if there are known problems.
Know How to Negotiate
Negotiating is a big part of buying a used car. If youknow the real market price for the car, then you can have a figure in mind when you come to the lot. Don’t just accept the sticker price on any used car, as the dealers are often willing to haggle.
Instead of asking them to take the price down to a certain amount, first ask them how much they would be able to take off the price for you. You can work down from there, and at that point would be a good time to mention any concerns you have about the car.
Before you sign any paperwork and agree to buy a car, you definitely want to take it for a test drive. This can not only alert you to some problems the vehicle may have, but it can also give you a better sense of how comfortable the car will be to drive.
Finally, make sure everything is in order before you leave the lot. You need to have all the paperwork together as well as confirmation of the purchase. You also want to have a spare key for the car, just in case. Once you have these, and you have put a lot of work into checking the car out, you should be able to have a used car you can be proud to own.