5 Tips for Buying the Perfect Used Car

February 12th, 2014 by

There are plenty of reasons to go with a used car instead of buying new! Lower insurance rates, a good chunk off the purchase price, and plenty of wiggle room on the price.

While you may have your heart set on purchasing a brand new vehicle, there are plenty of reasons why a used car may be a better fit for you. What follows are a number of used car buying tips to help you through the process should you choose to go this route.


Lower insurance rates, lower purchase price and lots of room to negotiate are just a few of the many positives to buying a used car. You can also track the vehicle’s history through the VIN number and decide whether you want the existing new-car warranty or opt for a used-car warranty.

What Fits Your Needs Best?

Do you need a minivan? Compact? SUV perhaps? How old do you want your vehicle to be? What kinds of features are important to you? Have you researched the models comparing things like reliability, handling, and fuel efficiency? There are a lot of choices to make when buying a used car and it may seem daunting but you don’t have to go it alone. Talk to a friend or family member who drives the same kind of vehicle you’re looking at and ask them for advice. Also, keep your eyes open for similar makes and models to the one you may be looking at. For example, if you desire a Toyota Camry, check out the Honda Accord or the Nissan Sentra as well.

What’s Your Budget?

How much can you afford for a down payment? What can you get for your trade-in? These are two very important questions when considering your budget and oftentimes it is better to sell off your old car in advance and use that cash for a down payment on your used car purchase. It is strongly recommended that your car payment be no more than 20% of your monthly income. Also, consider insurance and that, chances are, you will have to carry full coverage until your new purchase is paid in full. Getting financing through a dealer can often get a better rate than going through a bank yourself as multiple banks will compete for the dealership’s business.

Do Some Shopping.

Make trips to used car lots and the used-car sections of dealerships. Check the internet frequently and the newspapers. When you’re ready, narrow your search for a winner down to a few.

Don’t Forget the Test-drive.

The test-drive is extremely important and will most likely be the deal breaker for you. There are a few things you should try when test-driving: listen closely to the engine when you start up the car, don’t be afraid to take it a little hard over bumps and around corners to see how the handling responds, take a close look at the tires, wheel wells (for rust) and the underbelly, take stock of the inside of the car and how worn things like the floor mats, pedals and seats are and above all, trust your instincts. If you’re buying from an individual it’s a good idea to ask to see the service records and if you feel like you’ve found the right fit, think about bringing it to a mechanic for a thorough check-up. For around $100 you can potentially save yourself a lot of hassle.

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