Shopping for a used car can be an excellent way to save money, but it’s essential that you do your due diligence.
If you’re shopping for a car from either a dealer or private party, here are some tips to help find the perfect vehicle at an unbeatable price.
Know Your Budget
Before you begin looking for a used car, make sure you have an established budget. Your take-home pay should be taken into consideration along with how much money can be allocated towards car-related costs like monthly payments, insurance and fuel prices.
As a general guideline, experts suggest not spending more than 20% of your take-home pay on auto expenses. That means you should aim to spend no more than $750 each month for transportation costs.
Once you have a budget in mind, it will be simpler to find an excellent deal on a pre-owned car. This includes researching the vehicle’s history as well as how much maintenance and repairs will cost over time.
Before purchasing a used car, be sure to investigate any state taxes that could apply. These fees are often included in the final car price so it’s wise to consult your local tax office first.
Look at the Vehicle’s History
The vehicle history is an invaluable piece of data that can assist you in making an informed purchasing decision. It acts like a life report card, providing essential details about a car’s maintenance history, accidents, title status and more.
You may be able to obtain this information for free through online classified car ads. Reports can also be ordered at a cost from companies like Carfax and AutoCheck for an additional fee.
Reports usually include the number of owners, vehicle odometer accuracy and other useful data to help you decide whether or not to purchase it.
It is essential to remember, however, that a history report does not give you the complete picture of a vehicle’s past or condition. A mechanic’s inspection can offer more comprehensive data and allow you to make an informed buying decision.
Finally, be aware of any recalls performed on the vehicle. These could affect its performance or safety, so it is wise to check them out prior to purchasing a used automobile.
Don’t Be Afraid to Walk Away
One of the best ways to guarantee you get a fair price on a used car is by shopping around. This involves visiting multiple dealerships, researching comparable vehicles and securing outside financing.
Once you have a clear vision of what you want, don’t be afraid to walk away from a deal that doesn’t meet your expectations. Even if the dealership has other customers interested in that vehicle, politely walking out may often lead to another dealer making an even better offer.
It’s wise to request the worst-case scenario price from the dealer before beginning negotiations, as this can give you insight into where you stand in negotiations and if your deal still makes sense. But be careful not to overspend or insult the dealership by asking for too low a figure.
Test Drive It
To make sure the car is ideal for you, take it out on a test drive. This will give you an opportunity to see how well-handling, comfortable it is and if its design will suit your taste.
Testing out a car is essential when purchasing used, so don’t skip this step!
Test the engine, steering, brakes and suspension to ensure they work properly. Also listen for any unusual noises like rattles or clonks to identify potential issues.
Take notes while driving and ask a friend or family member to do the same so you can review your observations later on.
You can have the salesperson suggest a test-drive route that includes various roads to give you an idea of how the car performs on different surfaces. This way, you’ll know how it handles hills or going down the highway.