Although a vast majority of dealerships advertise their newer vehicles more aggressively, used cars still make up a massive portion of their total sales. In fact, almost 40 million used vehicles are exchanged annually between private individuals and dealers. With so many options, many people are overwhelmed with the buying process. Whether you’re looking to buy a family vehicle or a sports car, there are some steps that can help make the buying process much easier. Here are 8 steps to take when buying a new vehicle:
1. Calculate your budget
Before you start looking for a used vehicle, it’s important to calculate your budget. Although used cars are much cheaper than newer models, they may require more maintenance and attention on average.
Unless you can afford a used vehicle outright, you will have to take out a bank loan and make monthly payments. If this is the case, it’s important to ensure the payments fall below the 20-percent mark of your monthly paycheck. If you’re truly living on a budget, you may want to aim for a lower percentage. Once you determine a reasonable budget, you can start searching for the right vehicle.
2. Curate a list of target models
Everyone has an idea of what car models make the perfect used car. While it’s true that the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord are excellent choices, there are some people who argue that the Kia Optima and Ford Fusion are better alternatives. Obviously, there is no magic car model that makes the perfect used vehicle for everyone. Each person will have their own definition.
When you’re in the market for a used car, it’s a great idea to curate a list of possible options that fit your budget and needs. This can greatly reduce the headaches involved with sifting through thousands of potential models.
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3. Find available models near you
Once you’ve curated a list of potential models, you can start looking for available options in your area. This will give you an opportunity to see the models in person and determine if they are a good match. If you find a dealer willing to offer you a test drive, this is also a great way to narrow your search. Even though you don’t have to purchase a model from your area, seeing these cars in person can help add some perspective in the buying process.
4. Check the vehicle’s history report
If you’ve found a particular vehicle that fits your needs, you should check the accompanied history report. This is one of the more critical steps in buying a used car. Even though a vehicle may appear perfect at first glance, its history report may reveal something bad. You may need a VIN decoder to unlock the history report of some used cars. Here’s a list of some reputable websites that offer acurate and detailed history reports:
6. Contact the dealer or seller
Once you’ve found a particular car with a clean history that fits all of your needs, you should resist the urge to rush out for a quick buy. Instead, you should start by contacting the dealer or seller first. This is a great way to establish a rapport before making a large purchase.
This relationship also gives you an opportunity to ask more pointed questions about the car. If you’re buying from a private seller, you can ask about their reasons for selling the vehicle. When buying from a dealership, a call can help you determine whether the car is still in stock. During this initial call, you should try to set up a test drive if possible.
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7. Have the car inspected
Once you’ve found a car that you’re willing to purchase, it’s important to have a professional perform a thorough inspection to ensure nothing is wrong with the car. This isn’t motivated by a lack of trust in the seller. Instead, you simply want to ensure that everything works well.
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8. Negotiate a price
The best part about buying a used car is the negotiable price. New cars have fixed costs that cannot be discussed. Through all of your prior research online, you should have a good idea for how much the car is worth used. If the seller is asking for a much higher price, don’t be afraid to walk away or haggle down.