steps to buying a used car

7 Must Know Steps When Buying a Used Car

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These days the price tag of purchasing a brand new car is unattainable for many of us and does not line up well with our Opportunty Cost.

However, if you are in the market for a used car instead, but don’t want to be scammed, how can you avoid it? You also need to ensure you aren’t paying too much for a vehicle that has been wrecked and then shoddily patched up. It’s especially important to make sure you aren’t getting scammed on a car that you’ve financed instead of paying cash for. If that happens you could end up “under water” or upside down if you have to sell your car and you owe more than it’s worth. This is just one reason that car payments suck.

To help make sure you don’t get scammed when you buy your next car, here are some things to look out for to help you make a good decision and avoid major pitfalls.

 

Related Article: The Main Thing About Car Payments: They Suck

 

1. Ask Lots of Questions

If you are buying the car privately instead of at a dealership, it might be a good idea to ask the owner why they are selling it. You should also find out if the seller originally purchased it brand new, or if it was used when they bought it.

If the seller gives you vague answers, you can always walk away and look for something else. Even if you do shop at car dealerships for your next used car, you need to find out about previous owners, service records, and any damages the car has had in the past.

 

2. What is the Condition of the Car?

The first thing I looked at when I bought my used car last year was the age of the vehicle and how many miles were on it. I also checked to see if the seller had any records from the service that had been done on it.

Because I’m not as familiar with car maintenance and things to look for when it comes to damage and abuse, I also took my dad with me to look the car over before I purchased it. He looked closely at the interior and exterior of the car, including under the hood, and made note any visible damage or abuse. If you don’t know someone who is car savvy that can help you out with this, you might want to have it checked out by an experienced mechanic you trust. This may cost you a few dollars, but it’ll be worth it if you can avoid major problems before you buy the car.

You should also try to find out if there have been any recall notices and whether or not they were addressed.

 

3. How is the Car Equipped?

Depending on your own needs in a vehicle, this could be a deal breaker. Check the Kelley Blue Book price against the amount the owner is asking, keeping in mind the options on the car. This will help you determine if they are asking a fair price. If the price seems like it’s too good to be true, it probably is, or the car has some hidden damages you may not have noticed.

“Features” aren’t everything when it comes to a car, especially if you are working hard to get out of debt. Before you shop for a “fully loaded” car, ask yourself if you really need all of those features, or if a more basic car will do so you can use your money elsewhere instead. But if there are features you truly need, like enough space for your family, don’t settle for a car that won’t meet your needs. If you do, you’ll likely end up car shopping again in a just a few months or a year down the road to find a car that will better suit your needs.

 

4. CARFAX It

If you live in the United States or Canada, you are going to want to CARFAX it. Before you purchase a used car or truck, you want to be 100% sure you know exactly what you are buying. A CARFAX uses the vehicle identification number (VIN) to show you any accident history, claims, actual odometer readings, existence of a branded title such as a salvage or junk title, or even past registration as a fleet vehicle. The bottom line is you should always take the extra few minutes a run a CARFAX.

 

5. Thoroughly Test Drive it

Take your time to thoroughly check out the vehicle and don’t let the seller pressure you by saying others are interested as well. Don’t just take it around the block, get it out on the highway as well. Some cars handle fine in town, but develop a shimmy or shake on the highway at high speeds. This could be a sign of something simple, such as tires being out of alignment, but it could also be caused by a bigger problem, like a bent axle. If you notice a shake when you are test driving a car, you definitely need to get it checked out by a trusted mechanic before you buy it.

 

6. Negotiate

Don’t rush your decision to buy the car. I shopped around for almost a year before finding the car I wanted in a price range I was willing to pay. If you aren’t comfortable negotiating, take someone with you who will negotiate on your behalf. There’s no shame in asking for the best possible price, whether you are working with a private seller or a dealership.

Hopefully you won’t be in a position where you are in a hurry to buy a car, when this happens you lose the power of negotiation and the ability to walk away if the seller won’t work with you on price.

 

Chris Peach on Negotiating

Chris Peach HeadShotStudies have shown that when a human being sees large amounts of cash in front of them, their pupils dilate, their heart rate increases, and their blood pressure is elevated. These signs are all known as a sympathetic nervous response. This response is the basis for my negotiating skills when it comes to making large purchases.

I use the power of cash to create this response whenever I am negotiating to make a large purchase. Here is how it works for a $10,000 vehicle purchase:

 

 

 

  1. I first withdraw the pre-determined maximum amount of money I am willing to spend and I ask for the cash in $20s.
  2. Next, I will neatly place $8,000 cash inside a briefcase with all the bills facing the same way.
  3. I keep the other $2,000 in a wod inside my pocket.

 

When I am ready to negotiate my offer, I pop the latches on the briefcase simultaneously and offer the seller $8,000 on the spot. Once they see the cash and they have the sympathetic nervouse response mentioned above, 9 times out of 10 I expect to hear “DEAL!”.

However, if there needs to be a little wiggle room, I do have the extra $2,000 in my pocket 🙂

 

Chris Peach Tip: The Best Way to get a DEAL is to Flash the Cash. Click To Tweet

 

7. Talk to Your Banker Before You Begin

The time to check into financing is before you begin car shopping, not after you have one picked out. This way you’ll know how much you can spend and how much of a payment you can handle if you don’t have all the cash saved up already.

If you’re taking these steps, you are on the right track. You want your vehicle to last several years, so this decision should not be made in haste. Do your homework and you will have a better outcome.

What other things should you look out for when buying a car?

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21 replies
  1. Geoff
    Geoff says:

    I’m sure there are a good few government treasury officials that could learn a thing or two from these blogs! How many countries are paying back loans and for how long?

    Reply
  2. Tobias Armstrong
    Tobias Armstrong says:

    I love the tip to ask lots of questions. When you’re buying a used car, you want to know as much as possible so you know what you’re getting yourself into. the condition of the car is also important, and you definitely want to thoroughly test drive it. Thanks for the great advice!

    Reply
  3. James Bergman
    James Bergman says:

    I agree that you should always take your time to check out a car before buying it. If you are being pressured into getting the car by the seller, then you probably don’t want that car. Also, when looking at the price of the car remember that you will need to pay for the registration and maybe a title transfer for your car after you buy it.

    Reply
  4. Audrey Kinley
    Audrey Kinley says:

    I guess I never thought about asking the seller more questions, I’ve always just trusted what they say. I’ll have to take my husband with me next time I look at a car. We’ve been looking for a new car for the past few weeks, I just hope that I can find one soon.

    Reply
  5. Samantha Rogers
    Samantha Rogers says:

    I am going to be starting classes soon and will need to buy a good commuter car in order to get to and from campus. I liked that you suggested to not only take a car around the neighborhood but to also drive it on the freeway. I will be doing most of my commuting on the freeway, so it is important that the car works well at higher speeds.

    Reply
  6. Deedee Lewis
    Deedee Lewis says:

    I agree with the tip about taking it for a test drive in town and on the highway. My sister’s car did fine both around the block and on the highway and it gave her a peace of mind about the vehicle. I will be sharing these buying car tips with my husband for the next time we get an automobile.

    Reply
  7. Amanda Drew
    Amanda Drew says:

    Thanks for pointing out that it’s a good idea to ask someone to come with you to help you negotiate if you don’t feel that comfortable doing it yourself. I want to get a new car because my old one is very old. I was thinking that a Chevy would be a nice type to get, but I’m still trying to figure out what model I’d like. I think that I’ll bring someone with me once I’ve found somewhere to get a used car from.

    Reply
  8. Jocelyn McDonald
    Jocelyn McDonald says:

    My sister is buying her first car, and I suggest she consider choosing a used car. Your article had some great tips for buying a used car, and I really liked how you mentioned to thoroughly test drive the car, and even take it on the freeway. Some cars do fine in town but shimmy on the freeway, so I’ll be sure to share this advice with my sister to help her choose the right used car.

    Reply
  9. Margaret
    Margaret says:

    Good ideas. I have gotten really excellent tips for your article. Having in mind exactly what you want before starting your search will help you stay focused and keep you from making the wrong decision. Thanks so much for sharing!

    Reply
  10. William Slater
    William Slater says:

    Unquestionably, an intermediary is absolutely a great medium of conveyance. But I don’t think all people can manage to snap-up a new roadster to fulfill their transportation requirements. That’s why many people put their finger on the second-hand coupe to be a perfect treasure, presenting matchless transportation at a cost that can be afforded without breaking the bank. But the fact is, shopping a cast-off speedster is a bit riskier than buying a brand new car. So, when you are going to buy a second-hand car, make sure you are comprising your speed machine’s want lists, setting a realistic budget, doing the research, and tracking down the history report of the preferred model. Then you need to take a test drive, check the documents, and perform a thorough inspection by hiring a mechanic in order to make the vehicle of your dreams a cost-effective reality.

    Reply
  11. Lisa Tylor
    Lisa Tylor says:

    This article is worth a read. Buying a used vehicle without proper inspection could cost a lot of money. Used vehicles are problematic in nature and a pre-purchase inspection should be conducted prior to buy such a vehicle. By doing such an inspection, we could identify abnormalities associated with the vehicle have a significant influence on the performance of the vehicle. However, such kind of inspection should be carried out by experienced professionals.

    Reply
  12. Duncan Lance
    Duncan Lance says:

    These are some pretty good tips, especially the one about making sure that you test drive the car. After all, the test drive will give you an opportunity to look for any problems that the car might have. Specifically, it might help to pay attention to the sound of the car’s engine, the way it brakes, the lights, and stuff like that.

    Reply
  13. Derek Dewitt
    Derek Dewitt says:

    I am planning on getting a used car next spring so thanks for sharing this. I like your point about negotiating for the best price possible. I’ll definitely try this with each seller so I can get the best deal possible.

    Reply

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