First-time car buyers and new drivers are frequently faced with a variety of financial, functional, and emotional requirements that will impact the process of buying a car. Although many people have certain processes that address one or more of these needs, it is important to attempt to satisfy all of them. Doing so will make you a happier driver, and it will ensure your purchase is not wasted.
The first requirement might be the most obvious, but it also the most important. First and foremost, you should attempt to get the type of car you want and need. A car type is different than a specific car. As such, it is easier to buy a type that you like. If you need to haul things, an SUV or truck will be in order. If you need safety, a larger or more solidly built vehicle is in order. If you need something stylish as well, compare all the different types of car that offer the style you prefer.
2. New versus inexpensively used
If you have the opportunity to buy new, you are fortunate. That said, there is something to be gained by understanding there are different degrees of new. For instance, purchasing a so-called new-ish car with extremely low mileage will save you a lot of money. If you can find a car with 10,000 miles on it, it will still be extremely new, but it will be priced much cheaper than a new car with, say, 100 miles the factory put on it during testing.
Additionally, you can purchase a new car near the end of the year when dealers are attempting to cycle their inventory. Finally, if you can time your purchase on a late-landing holiday, such as Labor Day, you might be able to take advantage of sales and cycling inventory.
3. Car history report
Getting a Carfax or vinnumberlookup.org report will allow you to get a bird’s-eye glance of the car’s history. You can see the reported mileage and get an overall Carfax or AutoCheck rating, which compares a particular car to other cars of the same make, model, and year. Additionally, you can receive information on the following important items:
- number of owners
- service history
- reported accident
- vehicle identification number (VIN)
In terms of owners, look for a car with only one owner. If you find a car with one owner, look to determine if there are records of how often the car was serviced.
Finally, you should absolutely avoid all cars that were reported as having been involved in an accident. The reason you should avoid cars that have been in accidents is that there is no real way of knowing the extent of the damage and how well the damage was repaired. For instance, there are many horror stories of substantial damage being given a temporary repair and a detailed appearance makeover. In these instances, the car will apparently look like a good car, but it will probably soon need to be fixed.
In terms of the VIN, you should use a VIN decoder, which will give you key pieces of information. The information will pertain to the make and model of the car and include recalls or whether it was stolen. Additionally, it will help you identify reported accidents as well as title problems. A VIN decoder is one of the best things you can do to ensure there are no surprises when buying any car–new or used.
4. Mileage intervals
If you are like many people and are seeking a used car, you will want to consider the following mileage points that are critical to any wise driving investment.
Service requirements usually happen at the following mileage intervals:
The 10,000 mileage point usually only requires an oil change. From this point forward, a car requires oil changes every 7,000 to 10,000 miles.
30,000 to 40,000
Brakes usually need to be replaced at this point.
60,000 to 70,000
At this juncture, things like belts start to become brittle and break. Additionally, fluid levels, such as coolants, transmission fluid, and power-steering fluid begin to deplete and need re-filling. Additionally, the brakes might also need to be repaired.
When purchasing a car, if you purchase well before one of these mileage points, you will probably have plenty of time before things start needing attention. Additionally, when you purchase a car somewhere in-between two mileage points, you need to have the car inspected to ensure the previous mileage point requirements were attended. Otherwise, you will be faced with sudden expenses.
5. Known or common problems
For whatever car you are purchasing, you should Google the make and model along with the keyword “problems.” Any car will have problems, so it is difficult to determine what is good and what is bad. However, avoid cars with problems in the catastrophic categories, such as engine problems, airbag problems, and electrical problems. Engine problems, for instance, can result in blown spark plugs or sudden, uncontrollable acceleration.
6. Certified pre-owned versus used
Certified pre-owned cars are cars that are inspected, repaired, and certified to still meet the manufacture’s original performance specifications. Additionally, they usually come with a warranty. As such, they are more reliable–and more expensive.
The category of cheaper, used cars, however, applies to every used car in existence. As such, the reliability of these cars must be carefully assessed. If you can, purchase something certified pre-owned.
The final piece of advice is to avoid cars that come with certain terms, such as “mechanic’s dream” or “weekend project.” These indicate that the car is best purchased by someone who can easily fix it and flip it.