Tips for Buying a Used Vehicle

Tips for Buying a Used Vehicle

What You Should Know Before Visiting the Used Car Lot

Shady. Sketchy. Scammy. You know that these are all words you’ve heard to describe used car lots! But careful, discerning used car shoppers know that they can avoid negative experiences at the used car dealership by understanding everything that goes into finding and purchasing a quality used car.

Arm yourself with these tips so you can make smart choices when looking for an affordable, reliable vehicle.

Choose the Best Used Car Dealership in Your Area

Your first task before even looking at used car listings is to investigate every used car lot in your area to find the one with the best customer service and satisfaction rankings. Use the internet to find this information on websites like Facebook, Google, Yelp, and more.

Read reviews from multiple sites before you choose the best used car dealership. You’ll want to consider what people say in terms of pricing, mechanical issues, and how customers are treated.

Compare Listings to Kelley Blue Book

Once you’ve identified a quality used car lot, start looking at the listings of vehicles for sale on their website, focusing on the features of the vehicle, mileage on the odometer, and condition. You can then use this information to check on the Kelley Blue Book value.

The asking price of the vehicle should be within the KBB range. Anything excessively high or excessively low is a red flag.

Check for a Vehicle History Report

When you look at used cars, always ask to see the vehicle history report associated with the VIN – vehicle identification number. Read over the report carefully. It will describe major repairs or body work the vehicle has required, and could even include mechanical repairs and maintenance. Auto accidents also will be on this report, as well as the number of owners and the states they lived in. A vehicle without a vehicle history report available is another red flag. 

You can independently verify the information on the Vehicle HIstory Report on one of many websites. All you have to do is enter the vehicle’s VIN into the system.

Never Skip the Test Drive

Always take a used vehicle you’re thinking of buying on a test drive that truly puts it through its paces. During the test drive, you’ll want to:

  • Start the engine yourself.
  • Turn both left and right.
  • Drive slowly on city or residential streets, and ask to drive on a highway at 55+ miles per hour, if possible.
  • Stop and accelerate from a complete stop.
  • Reverse out of a parking spot, or simply reverse to test the function.
  • Drive in multiple gears. If it’s an automatic transmission, the transmission will shift for you; as long as you drive at multiple speeds, you will have run the vehicle through most of the gears.

This test drive is really the only chance you have to get a sense of how the car, truck, or SUV drives and performs. If you feel that your test drive was inadequate, ask the salesperson for additional driving time and permission to take the vehicle on a longer test drive. 

Let Your Mechanic Take a Look at It

Tips for Buying a Used Vehicle

You can always take any used vehicle you’re thinking of buying to be inspected by an independent mechanic, outside of the used car dealership.

A skilled mechanic can discover any mechanical flaws that you can ask the dealership to repair before you purchase it. Or, if your mechanic discovers something particularly egregious, you can simply walk away and look into different vehicles.

Without a visit to a mechanic, you’re banking on the trustworthiness of the used car lot. And while you can certainly put your trust in many of them, you can’t in all of them.

Be Prepared to Make a Purchase

If you know that you need to buy a used car, you should visit the dealership prepared to carry out the sale. If you go in unprepared, you may not be able to buy the vehicle you fall in love with, and someone else will come to scoop it up!

Before heading to the dealership for a test drive:

  • Know how much you can afford. Use an online car loan calculator to get an estimate of what your payment might be.
  • Gather your current vehicle, all the keys associated with it, and the title, if you plan to trade it in to your new-to-you ride.
  • Bring your photo ID, proof of income, and your down payment. This shows you’re serious about making a purchase.

It’s Time to Buy a Used Car!

You don’t have to have a frustrating experience when it comes time to buy a used vehicle. Follow these tips to help the process go more smoothly and to ensure that you’re getting a good deal on a quality ride.

And remember – if you’re worried you can’t do it on your own, it’s totally normal to bring along a trusted friend or family member for moral support! 

About the Author Leroy

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