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Tips for Buying a Used Car

Used Car Maintenance & Warranty

Buying a used car can save you a lot of money but there are a lot of things to consider, such as how much you’re willing to spend, whether it’s in good condition, and if you want a warranty or not. Having a budget will help you narrow down your search. Keep in mind that used cars can require additional car maintenance and more money down the road. If you want a warranty, you’ll have to get a Certified Pre-Owned vehicle from a dealer. These vehicles are usually less than 5 years old and are more expensive, but, they have a long-term warranty from the manufacturer. If a warranty isn’t a big concern for you, privately-sold vehicles usually have the cheapest prices, but you’ll have to do some more homework before you buy. Even when purchasing from the dealer you can follow these steps to ensure you’re getting the used car that’s right for you.

1. Research

Look for the car brands that have good used ratings, such as Honda or Toyota, and that fall into your budget. Once you find some options, look into each vehicle’s history. All you need is the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) and you can find out what kind of damage the car may have taken in the past, usually for a small fee. You’ll probably want to avoid anything with a salvage title, which means was totaled in some sort of accident and the insurance company declared the repair cost worth more than the car itself. This can indicate future mechanical problems and make it more difficult to sell again. Also ask for car maintenance records as well to ensure the vehicle has been kept up properly.

2. Communicate with the seller or dealer

If you find the car in an ad, such as on craigslist or in the paper, be sure to call and talk to the seller beforehand and ask any questions you may have. You don’t want to waste time looking at the vehicle if there’s a deal breaker. Ask why the vehicle is on the market. You can use the information to prepare your offer, and you are also less likely caught off guard by something you weren’t expecting. Find out everything you can before you test drive.

3. The Test Drive

There are several things you can look for when test driving a vehicle. Talk to your mechanic or look online for common symptoms of a vehicle that needs repair. Take the car for a drive and take notice of your comfort level, any engine or warning lights, whether the AC & heater works, whether it has good visibility while driving, and if anything smells suspicious. After you drive, check under the hood and make sure nothing is steaming or smoking. You can also have your mechanic look at the vehicle for a modest fee.

4. Negotiating and Closing the Deal

After you’ve done all the research on the car and found an average paying price online or through another source, decide what you’re willing to pay ahead of time. You can make an offer that’s slightly lower, but also within reasonable price for the vehicle and its condition. Support your offer with facts and if the final offer from the seller is close to the average paid price, you’re good. As you close the deal, make sure all the titles, registrations, and warranties are properly in place from the seller.