Buying used cars can be frightening. Dealers and individuals alike sell used cars on the verge of breaking down every day. If you are considering buying a used car and don’t want to end up in the breakdown lane, there are a few things you should know to find the best used car possible.
If you’re not comfortable with spending a good deal of time sifting through classifieds and visiting individual sellers to find that diamond in the rough, dealerships are a good alternative.
When you choose to buy a used car from a dealership, it’s important to pick a dealer with a good reputation. Ask around, and check out sites like Dealer Rater or Yelp to see what previous customers have to say. If customer reviews aren’t available for used car dealers in your area, stick with those tied to a manufacturer or large used car dealer chains like CarMax.
Once you pick out a good dealership, make sure that any car you consider buying is either certified pre-owned or has a vehicle history report available. Dealerships of many makes now have certified pre-owned cars that were thoroughly inspected and any problems repaired. These usually come with a warranty included in the sales price, and if the car you’re looking at doesn’t have either, it’s probably best to find one that does.
If the car you’re interested in isn’t certified pre-owned, ask for vehicle history reports from companies like CARFAX or AutoCheck. Many dealers provide these for free. With these reports you can use the owner, title and accident histories to make an informed decision on whether it’s worth your time and money.
If you’re a bargain hunter, and don’t mind a little extra effort and risk, buying used cars from individuals is a good way to go. However, you’re very unlikely to get any sort of warranty or free vehicle history report this way, and you should be extra cautious before making a purchase.
The first thing you’ll want to do is check Kelley Blue Book to see what price range to expect for the kind of car you want. After getting a feel for prices, you’ll want to go through classified listings in your local newspaper or online at classifieds sites like Craigslist.
Once you start meeting with sellers, you’ll want to look over the car thoroughly. Are they any obvious problems with the car? Is there any rust? Is it dented? Is the interior in good condition? Take these things into consideration later, when making a decision.
Finally, it’s time for the test drive. If for any reason a seller does not want you to take the car for a test drive, turn around and don’t look back. While you’re driving the car, make sure everything that’s supposed to work does work. It sounds simple, but it’s easy to forget to turn on the air conditioning when it’s raining outside. You’ll also want to listen closely for any strange sounds coming from the engine, the brakes, or anywhere else for that matter. If anything seems not quite right, it’s probably in your best interest to keep looking.