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May 10, 2019

Tips For Used Car Shopping

Car shopping can be an exciting time in a person’s life. Often it’s a 16-year-old and their parents out shopping for The First Car, or a bigger vehicle for a growing family. It can also be a boring, soul-sucking experience. Car shopping isn’t always fun – especially used car shopping.

There’s a lot of things to know when you plan to buy a used car. If you’re used to buying new, there’s a number of differences between the two shopping experiences, and you’ll want to be aware of them.

What to Know Before You Go

Whenever you make a large purchase, you should have a budget in mind, and you should stick to it. When buying a car, you’ll have to factor extra fees such as the dealer’s fee, taxes, and registration into your final cost. Don’t let yourself be surprised when the car you thought was going to be $8,000 ends up costing you $10,000. Some dealer’s fees are well over $1000, and registration costs quite a bit, too. Taxes will depend on your location and the agreed upon price for the vehicle, but they’re likely to raise your final cost significantly.

When you begin planning your car buying strategy, make a list of cars you’d love, and cars you’d like. You’re never guaranteed to find the exact car you’d like with a reasonable mileage and price, so it’s good to be open-minded and flexible in regards to what you’re looking for. Look at different dealerships and websites. Keep in mind your limits on mileage, MPG, and model year. This will help you pare down cars you don’t want saves you time. Your budget will allow you to avoid cars that cost more than you can afford, which helps, even if it feels limiting.

Be prepared to negotiate if the dealership allows it (some dealerships pride themselves on their priced-right/no-negotiation policy). Have a good idea of what the car is worth using a service such as Kelley Blue Book  or Edmunds. There’s plenty of negotiation tactics at your disposal, so do your research and save yourself as much money as you can in the buying process.

Paying for the Car

If you’re planning to trade in your old car, have an idea of what it’s worth. Check the previously mentioned services so you can be better prepared when you receive their offer for your car. Some dealers will give you a trade-in bonus if you’re buying a car, so be aware of that as well. Do keep in mind that they are a business and want to make money, so they will probably offer you far less than what these websites say your car is worth.

If you plan on financing the vehicle, either partially or entirely, there’s a few things you should know. You’ll want to know your credit score. Take some time to check it on a site like Credit Karma before you shop. Your credit score affects the interest rates on loans available to you. You can get financing quotes beforehand, too. If you look into online lenders or call up your bank and complete an application, they’ll give you an interest rate and a maximum amount they will lend you. You’re not locked into this loan if the dealer’s loan or another lender’s is better, but it’s great to have options.

The Day Of: Vehicle History Reports, Test Drives, Car Inspections & More

When you go car shopping, plan for an all-day affair. Even if you know exactly what car you want to test drive and buy, there’s some chance the car just isn’t perfect. Maybe there’s some damage you couldn’t see when you viewed it online, or it just doesn’t feel right. Regardless, it’s better to be safe than sorry, so bring some snacks, plenty of water, sunscreen, and something to keep yourself occupied during any down-time.

When you arrive at the location to view the car and test drive it, make sure to ask for damage and servicing reports. A common report is Carfax. You’ll want to know if the car has been damaged so you can look over the affected areas for any remaining damages, as well as the repairs. A good repair job will appear perfect inside and out. Examine the gaps between the body components. The gaps should be parallel to one another. If the components touch or have very wide gaps, it can be a sign of a poor repair. Make sure you look under the car and in hidden areas such as the spare tire well, if you can access it. You may see messy welding jobs, which can lead to problems down the road.

Test drive the car. Pay attention to how it feels, sounds – even smells. Adjust the seat, headrest, mirrors, and anything else you would normally adjust in your car. Check the A/C, windows, wipers (front and back), turn signals, sound system, blindspots, brakes, tire tread and pressure, seatbelts, locks, and if you and any passengers have enough space to sit comfortably and safely. Take a moment to pop the hood and make sure everything looks okay. Even if you don’t know much about cars, you should still look for any obvious problems. This post from A/C Pro is a quick, simple guide on what you should see under the hood.

Get the car inspected. Most dealerships will allow you to “borrow” the car to take it to a trusted mechanic. Be aware that you will have to pay for this yourself, but the mechanic can save you a severe headache down the line if they spot a major problem with the car that you couldn’t see yourself.

If you’re buying from an individual, make sure that all necessary paperwork is filed properly so that the car is legally transferred to your name. Be sure to also get your insurance set up so you can legally drive your car away from the lot. You may need to call your insurance company to let them know, and they can issue you a temporary policy so you can take your new car home, worry-free.

There are a lot of things that factor into buying a car, used or new. Make a checklist for each car you take into consideration while shopping. Used car shopping can be a daunting task, but it’s a great option for drivers, new and old. You can save a lot of money, and it’s greener than buying new!

Don’t forget to service your new car! Carjoy offers oil changes, full inspections, air filter changes, specialty fluid changes, and wind shield wiper replacements. You can get your car taken care of while you work, see a movie, or do just about anything!