A car is one of the biggest purchases most people make, so it’s important to do some homework before buying.
The easiest way to save money when buying a car is to purchase a used vehicle instead of a new vehicle. This is because a new car loses most of its value soon after it is purchased. However, you must consider the total cost of ownership when purchasing a used car.
Total cost of ownership includes the monthly payment, insurance, gas, and maintenance costs. To minimize your monthly payment, talk to lenders and get preapproved before visiting a dealer. This will simplify the buying process and can make it easier to negotiate a good price.
Used cars have the potential for higher maintenance costs, so it’s important to choose a model with a good reliability rating. Start your search by reading publications like JD Powers and US News which regularly publish reliability rankings for used cars.
Once you’ve narrowed your search to a few models, search online for used cars that match your criteria. For many car buyers, the ability to see and touch a car before purchasing is important. Local car lots usually list their inventory online and provide the opportunity to test drive the vehicle before buying. Compare the listed sale prices to online pricing guides like Kelley Blue Book or NADA. This will help you get a fair price.
Before choosing your used car, use the VIN to run a vehicle report. Check for a clean title, serious accidents or a salvaged title, accurate mileage on the odometer, and regular maintenance records. Issues on the vehicle report may be a reason to reconsider or negotiate a lower price.
If the vehicle inspection report is acceptable, test drive the vehicle and find a mechanic to perform an independent inspection. Are you comfortable in the car? is the ride enjoyable? Do you hear any odd noises? If the mechanic finds needed repairs, ask the seller to make the repairs before purchasing.
Finally, once you’ve found the car of your dreams, don’t be afraid to negotiate. This is easier if you find several cars that you would be happy to purchase. Use the price from one dealer to get the price lower at other dealers.
While nothing can guarantee that you will find the perfect used car, doing your homework upfront will help you find a car you love and reduce the likelihood of problems in the future. This is not a comprehensive list of items you should consider when purchasing a used car. The FTC website has several resources that are a great place to learn more about the car buying process.
Courtesy Finance can help you start the used car buying process by getting you pre-approved for a loan with payments that fit your budget. Our local employees have helped people in the communities we serve purchase used cars since 2007. Get started by talking to a local branch today.