Before deciding to buy a used car, you’ll want to consider many different factors. Think about how much money you want to spend and what type of vehicle you need. With this information, you can begin to evaluate potential vehicles to find one that fits your criteria. Use this helpful guide to ensure you choose the right used vehicle for your needs and lifestyle.
Clarify Your Needs
It’s important to be clear about the kind of car you need before heading to the dealership. Be specific about your needs so you don’t find yourself on the car lot with only a vague idea of what you’re looking for. Do you want something sporty? Would you prefer more interior space? Is the power of the vehicle important? How many passengers do you plan to regularly have in your car? Do you plan to use your vehicle for work?
Answering specific questions about your needs helps narrow down your choices so you end up with a used vehicle you love. Whether you opt for a sedan, SUV, or sports car, clarifying your needs before entering the used car market is a pivotal first step in choosing the right car.
Establish a Budget
One of the most appealing things about used vehicles is that they are cheaper than new ones. Purchasing a vehicle from the used car market means you can avoid the heavy depreciation that occurs within the first year or two of a vehicle’s life. Although, you still have to have money for a used vehicle, so make sure you set a budget before making your final decision.
Decide whether you want to pay with cash or if you’ll need to finance your purchase. In general, most people tend to need financing for a large purchase, including for a used vehicle. If you do opt for financing, establish a budget based on how much you can afford to pay every month. It’s common for people to get themselves into trouble by buying a vehicle they can’t afford the payments on; you don’t want that happening to you. After you set a reasonable budget, make a commitment to stick to it and start your search.
Research Car Models
You can find many websites that feature car experts writing in-depth reviews of different car models. These reviews are freely available online, and they are an invaluable resource for potential car buyers. Many websites that review cars have a section for user reviews. Reading through user reviews can give you a more balanced perspective because they’re from people who went out and actually bought the car. Together, expert reviews and user reviews provide great insights that can help you narrow down your search and let you focus on the used cars that people say good things about.
It’s also important to find out the market value of the car models you’re considering. You don’t need to buy at the exact market value, but you do need to have a rough ballpark of how much car models you’re interested in are worth. Again, the internet is your friend here. Simply go to your favorite search engine and look up the market value for the model and year of the car you’re considering. Armed with this knowledge, you can head to the dealership to look for your preferred model.
Inspect the Car
Driving the car is obviously important, and you’ll get to that step eventually. But it’s important to first consider whether the car is in good condition or not. You don’t need to be a mechanic to inspect a used car. Simply use your eyes and take a look.
Examine the upholstery inside and see if there are any rips or stains. Sit in both front seats, and make sure they recline and move as expected. Closely inspect the paint job and bumpers for any scratches or dents that might not be obvious with a quick glance.
Take a Test Drive
The next step in choosing the best used car is to take one for a test drive. Most dealerships and private used car sellers will allow this. The main purpose of a test drive is to gauge whether or not you enjoy driving a specific vehicle. However, you want to pay attention to other important factors during your test drive as well.
Make sure that all important functions are working as expected, such as the heating and cooling system and turn signals. Turn on the sound system to ensure it is adequate for you, and look for any warning or indicator lights flashing on the dashboard. Stay alert to how the engine sounds, and pay attention to the brakes. Some sounds can indicate trouble, such as grinding or screeching noises.
Calculate Excessive Mileage
You should pay less for a vehicle with more miles than expected on it for a car of its age. There is no exact science here — the idea is to use a reasonable annual expected mileage and compare it to the number on the car’s odometer. It’s reasonable to use the ballpark expected annual mileage figure of 12,000 miles. If the car is six years old and it has 100,000 miles on its odometer, that’s a higher than expected mileage for a car of its age, so you should pay less than the market value.
Buy the Best Used Car
The last step in choosing the best used car is to make your purchase. After negotiating a price, read through the purchase contract, and if you have any questions, ask the seller to explain anything you’re not clear on. Then you’re all set to put the keys in the ignition and drive away as the proud owner of a used car.
When you’re ready to purchase a used vehicle, come by Huffines CDJR and check out our exciting range of used cars. We’re sure to have what you’re looking for at a price you’ll love.