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Buying a Used Car the Right Way
When you buy a new car, you often know exactly what you’re getting. You can read the sticker or look up information online about that particular make and model and learn everything you need to know.
Used cars can be more complicated. But, they are also more popular. In 2019 alone, over 40 million used cars were sold in the U.S. instead of just 17 million new cars and trucks.
Used cars are popular for a variety of reasons. They are often less expensive, and if you know what to look for, you can get a great deal on an even better car. Some people buy new vehicles and only drive them for a short time. Others may have one car for years but only drive a few miles each day.
If you’ve been hesitant about buying a used car, it’s time to take the reins and learn more about how to buy one the right way. In many cases, it’s better to buy used than new. But, you have to know what you’re doing.
So, let’s cover a few helpful tips you can use to make sure you’re buying a used car the right way. By keeping these in mind, you can purchase a fantastic car at a fraction of the cost.
Get Preapproved for a Car Loan
Before you even step onto a car lot, it’s a good idea to get preapproved for a loan. This will give you an idea of how much you can spend without going over your budget. That automatically helps you to narrow down the vehicles you want to look at, which will make your search much less stressful.
Having a preapproval can also help you with negotiating. Most car dealerships want to move their used inventory quickly. So, when a dealer sees your preapproval letter and knows what you can afford, they may be willing to negotiate on the sticker price or even the interest rate.
Do Your Own Inspection
The idea of jumping in a car and going for a test drive right away is tempting. And, test driving a vehicle is something you should absolutely do. But, before you let yourself get too excited, do a quick inspection.
Check the tires before you even get into the car. Once you’ve turned it on, look at the dash for any “check engine” lights or other warnings that shouldn’t be on. If you know your way around under the hood, check for engine sludge, and be sure to check the fluids. Most dealerships will maintain the cars on their lot to keep them in shape to sell. If the dealership you’re working with has neglected a car, it will show. Unfortunately, that can cause problems with the vehicle itself, and you might want to steer clear of it.
Take it to a Mechanic
If you’re interested in a car and you’ve narrowed it down to one, ask to take it home for the night. Some dealerships will even let you take it for a weekend to determine if it’s the right fit. If you can have some time with the car, take it to a mechanic that you trust.
A licensed mechanic will be able to tell you what kind of shape the car is really in. They may also be able to tell you if it’s been in any accidents or if any major work has been done on it before. While the car might still be in good shape, knowing these things can impact your decision to buy or pass.
Don’t Rely Solely on Mileage
Most people think that low mileage automatically means the car is a better deal. While a low-mileage vehicle is nice and may have less wear and tear, it’s the maintenance that matters.
Someone may have only driven a car a few thousand miles before turning it into the dealership. But, if that owner didn’t take care of the car properly during that time, it negates the low miles. Cars that are only driven once in a while have problems of their own, including plastic or rubber parts getting dried out, making them easier to break.
On the other hand, high mileage can mean that the car is worn, and it may require some upgrades or replacements soon. So, while it’s important to pay attention to the mileage, whether it’s high or low, it’s just as important to look at the car’s history. Most dealerships will be able to give you that report.
Buying a Used Car: Don’t Feel Pressured
Speaking of dealerships, perhaps the best tip you can keep in mind as you buy a new car is not to let yourself get pressured into a sale. Go to a dealership that makes you feel comfortable and one that prides itself on customer service, like Riley Ford. Car dealerships that try to “force” you into a sale can leave you feeling uncomfortable, and you might end up buying something that you later regret.
One of the best things you can do before even going to a dealership is doing your own research online. If you’re interested in a specific make and model, learn as much as you can about that particular car. That way, you can talk to a car salesperson about it when you get to the dealership. You’ll know what to expect, they’ll realize you have a lot of knowledge about the car you want, and you can work together to find the used car that’s right for you. Remember, you should feel as though the salesman is on your side, wanting to help you find the right car instead of just seeing dollar signs in their eyes.
Don’t let buying a used car intimidate you. In many cases, they can be just as great as their new counterparts and will end up costing you much less. Whether you go to a car dealership or you decide to buy from a private owner, these tips can help you to find the best car to fit your needs at the right price.