BUYING A CAR > Where to Buy Your Next Used Car

Where to Buy Your Next Used Car

Do some home work on where to buy that next used car

Buying a Used Car

In this article I will be sharing my best tips for buying used cars. There are several places to buy used cars. You can choose from dealerships, private parties and used car lots. Each option has its own set of pros and cons. I will go over tips and techniques I have learned in my automotive career – and it’s been a long ride.

Advantages of Buying Used Cars

There are some real advantages to buying used cars. Used cars can be a big money saver. Most of today’s cars are so well-built that they continue to perform well with a good deal of miles on them. I have personally owned and driven cars with well over 150,000 miles on them.

Consider What You Want Out of a Used Car

When you decide to buy that “new” used car, you need to first consider exactly what make and model you want. I can’t tell you how many times I have gone into a dealership not knowing exactly what I wanted only to be sold on something too expensive. It always leads to serious buyer’s remorse.

By doing some Internet research, you can find out if a particular make or model has a notorious set of problems. Also, check out vehicle sales sites and consumer sites to help determine the correct price you should pay. One good place to do this is on Kelly Blue Book. You can put in parameters like mileage and options to get to a real-world price in your part of the country. I also like to check AutoTrader to get comparable pricing information. And don’t forget to check prices on Craigslist – it a great place to get info.

Avoid Pitfalls of Buying Used Cars

Always ask the dealer for a Carfax vehicle history report on the car you are looking at. These reports list any known accidents, the status of the title (such as if the car has been rebuilt or is a salvaged vehicle) and things like the total number of owners and states the car has been registered in. No one should buy a car from a state that salts its roads during those long winter months if it can be avoided.

When it comes to buying a certified used car, do not pay to have it certified. Insist that it is included in the asking price – and that the price is consistent with your research. Remember, at a dealership the price is never really the price. There is a lot of room for negotiation in almost every case. Dealers have been known to put a stiff markup on a used car – there is a lot of profit in them. So be tough and negotiate hard.

Buying Used Cars From Private Owners

The next source to consider is buying from a private party. In general, this is my favorite way to buy a used car. There is a lot less pressure than the dealership option. However, you have to look out for yourself. You need the owner to provide a Carfax report just like you would with a dealership. They can be purchased online by the seller. Also, try as hard as you can to buy a used car with a complete service history – that means paperwork for all repairs and maintenance done to the car over its lifetime. Without these records you really need to look at the car carefully.

I also like to buy a car from the original owner if possible. I always have a mental image of cars that are passed from owner to owner – I wonder just how they have been treated. This is just a mental thing with me, and most likely has no bearing on the car. It’s just something to consider. It most likely comes from my car-crazy personality.

The last and probably most important thing to do is have the used car inspected by a trusted and reliable mechanic. Any seller that won’t let you have this check done should be totally avoided. Run away fast! If the seller has nothing to hide, he or she should have no objections. You should expect to pay around $200 for this. So, make sure the service records are in hand and the car seriously looks great before you spend that money. Also, don’t forget the pricing research you did when it comes to making an offer for the used car.

Buying a Used Car From a Small Independent Car Lot

The final source for used cars is small independent car lots. I would advise a little caution here. It is rare to find a car on a used car lot that has the previous owner’s service records. However, you can still request that the car be inspected by your mechanic. A Carfax report is needed here as well. This will help you know if the car is a good one. Don’t buy a lemon.

Buying Used Cars From a Dealership

There is one great advantage to buying a used car from a main brand dealership. In a great many cases, you can buy a certified used car. Buying certified used cars can take a great deal of risk out of the process. These cars have gone through a ridged inspection process and had any deficiencies repaired. In most cases these used cars come with some warranty coverage. This can lead to some real peace of mind.

One word of caution: You will often pay a higher price at a dealership for certified used cars. But that may be negated by the quality of the car. You have to decide if buying used cars from a dealership is right for you. Once again, I recommend that you go in knowing the make and model you want. The majority of car dealerships have websites listing their inventory. This can save you a good deal of running around. You can see what color the car is, what type of transmission it has, and how many miles are on the car. I’ve wasted many a Saturday afternoon driving from lot to lot looking for a specific model of car – it can be disappointing. Not to mention a real time waster.

It goes without saying that the lower the miles the better. Also, check out the used car dealer and independent lots online before you buy. Look at other people’s reviews. Check with the Better Business Bureau to see if there is a history of complaints about the dealer.

If you do your homework, you will be able to find some high-quality used car dealers in your area. Heck, I’ve been known to drive quite a ways for the right car!

The key to making a good used-car purchase is knowledge. Know what you want and know what comparable cars are selling for in your area. The Internet is a very good tool for researching used cars – so use it. I just wish it was around years earlier because it could have saved me a lot of stress, time and money. Remember to buy a good car – not just one that looks pretty!

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