This is a great time to buy a used car. Why? Because the Internet makes it a lot easier to facilitate every aspect of the car buying process. Whether you buy a used car from a private party or choose a dealership in your area, you have access to a wealth of information that can help to ensure the best possible outcome. As you probably know, buying a used car makes financial sense given that a new car loses its value the moment you drive off the lot. Let’s delve into six steps for buying a used car.
1. Determine Your Budget
There’s something about buying a new car that creates an unmatched sense of excitement. Perhaps it’s the freedom that comes with having your own vehicle. Even if you’re used to driving a car, getting another one can be a lot of fun. When embarking upon this journey, the first thing you’ll want to do is determine how much money you want to spend on the car.
The general rule of thumb is that you shouldn’t spend more than 20 percent of your net pay. If you have a strict budget, you’ll want to spend a lot less than that. Keep in mind that there are other costs associated with owning a car, such as gas, insurance, maintenance, tires and registration.
2. Narrow Down the Type of Car You Want
When choosing the type of car you want, there are many considerations. If there’s a type of car you’ve always dreamed about, then you’ll probably want to just focus on finding out if that type of vehicle is available in your area. Otherwise, you can just focus on cars that are reliable and highly rated. It’s widely known that Toyota and Honda are two brands that offer safety and longevity.
Basically, these are universally considered good cars. However, there are many other options and you can find information online using car buying guides. Some of the most popular guides are produced by Consumer Reports and Edmunds.
3. Identify Used Cars for Sale
Once you know your price range and the type of car you want, you’ll need to find the car. Given that millions of people buy used cars every year, there’s a large inventory available and a simple Google search will reveal where you can go to find the car you want. When you conduct your search, you’ll want to look at the features of the car and the number of miles on the odometer. Get the VIN number because it will come in handy once you narrow down the exact car you want.
4. Conduct Research on the Vehicle History
Once you find a vehicle of interest and you have the VIN number, you’ll need to find out a lot more about the car to ensure there are no surprises down the road. Fortunately, you can gather this information from the comfort of your home with the help of the Internet. The two most popular databases used are Carfax, carVertical and AutoCheck. These sources will reveal whether the odometer reading is accurate and whether the vehicle has had any major damage.
5. Go For a Test Drive
This is where things get exciting! Going for a test drive can be a lot of fun, especially if it’s a car that you’ve been searching for and wanting to get for some time. The purpose of a test drive is to find out if there is anything wrong with the vehicle, so it’s important to remove any distractions and just focus on how the car feels and sounds when your drive it.
This means you’ll want to pay attention to the sound of the engine, the amount of space in the cabin, and whether it can accommodate all of your needs. To avoid the problem of buying a lemon, it’s wise to get an inspection before moving forward.
6. Negotiate a Great Deal
The last step is to negotiate a great deal. Since you have gathered so much information during the other steps, you’ll know exactly what’s available on the market, which will make it a lot easier to negotiate a fair price. If you’re paying cash, then you have more negotiating power. If you are financing the purchase, you can still negotiate a great deal, but you might consider getting a pre-approved loan from your bank; this will keep you in control of the purchase process.
The only thing left is to complete the paperwork, celebrate the purchase of your car, and have fun driving it!