If you know how to correctly go about the process, buying a used car is a smart investment. Once you follow a few basic steps, you’ll have a reliable vehicle at a great price. For anyone conducting a used car search, we also recommend following a few simple rules. If you’re unaware of them, we’ve collected a list of tips for buying a used car.
1. Have Options
Before you begin physically shopping, do some research and come up with a few different options. It’s best to equip yourself with the proper knowledge and to narrow down your choices first. Going into a dealership without an idea of what you’re looking for can be overwhelming—having an idea of what vehicles would work for you can make the process substantially easier.
2. Create a List
Have a list on hand of things you want or need your car to have. You should have two columns—one for attractive features that aren’t negotiable, and another for those that are. Make sure any prospective vehicles check off everything from the first list before you move on to the second.
3. Stick to Your Budget
Everyone has a budget, but sticking to it can be difficult. If we become frustrated with our options or see something we really don’t want to pass up, we may become willing to compromise on our finances. Before you do this, remind yourself why you set a budget in the first place. If you created it after doing your research, you should be able to find something within that price range. Just don’t be afraid to take your time.
4. Test Drive Several Cars
Try out several cars, even if you think the first one you tried is the one. You need to get a feel for how each car handles and what will work best for you. It’s also good to think of your comfort level, as you’ll likely be in your car for long stretches of time every once in a while.
5. Ask Questions
Don’t be afraid to ask your salesperson questions—after all, that’s what they’re there for. They want you to make a purchase, and they’re equipped to provide the knowledge required to help you make that decision.
6. Know the Car’s History
Research the car’s history before making the purchase. You want to know if it’s ever been in any accidents, if anything in it has ever been replaced, or any other miscellaneous facts. You can usually run the VIN to learn the vehicle’s history.