7 Important Used Car Buying Tips

(Updated on April 22, 2020)

We all wish we could purchase a new car, but the problem is that new cars cost a lot of money and depreciate very quickly. A used car can be a solid investment that will save you money if you know how to shop for one properly.

The last thing you’ll want to do is be deceived by some shady used car salesperson who sells you a lemon. So, you need to understand the best methods and strategies for going about purchasing a used car.

That way, you can end up with one that won’t disappoint you. Here are 7 tips that you should remember when shopping for a used vehicle.

Top 7 Tips for Buying a Used Car or Truck

1) Get a Certified Warranty

If you want to ensure that your used car will not have any functional problems, then you need to purchase a used car that comes with a certified warranty or CPO (Certified Pre-Owned). The dealer will usually put a warranty like this on a used car that has gone through their comprehensive inspection process.

If for some reason problems occur during the time period specified in the warranty, then the dealer will cover the repair costs. This is a huge insurance policy to have included with your used car. The downfall is that certified pre-owned vehicles are often a bit more expensive than non-CPO.

2) Know Your Budget

A used car salesperson will usually want to show you an expensive used car so that you will pay them more money. Don’t get pressured into purchasing a used car that is beyond your means. Go to the dealership with a maximum budget in mind. Then, just look at cars that only fall under this budget.

Pay less attention to the monthly payment and more attention to the total price of the car.

3) Research Ahead of Time

Most car dealerships these days have websites that you can access online. The websites will typically have special deals or offers. They will also publish their updated list of used cars available and the specifications about them. You should print this list out and go to the dealership with it.

That way, you don’t have to depend on the salesperson to show you what they have available because you will already know. Then you can request to see one of the cars from the list you printed out.

4) Test Drive

You’ll want to make sure that you’re comfortable driving the car that you purchase. The salesperson will almost always let you test drive the used car if you ask. If not, go to a different dealer/lot.

This is a big decision so try to spend as much time behind the wheel as you can. You can request the salesperson drive first so you can pay attention to all the nuances of the car and then drive back to the lot so you can feel how it drives.

If you can imagine yourself driving this car for the next 5 years or so and the price is right, then go ahead and purchase it.

5) Holidays Deals

Car dealerships will typically slash prices on their used cars during the holidays. These deals should be available the entire week that the holiday falls on.

Check the dealer’s advertisements on the internet and in newspapers to see what kinds of discounts they’re offering. This may be the perfect opportunity to get a good deal on a used car.

In addition, many dealers will give you better deals toward the end of each month since they often have quotas to meet.

6) Check the Tires

Car dealerships have a tricky habit of placing older or worn out tires onto used cars, even if they are certified. They do this because most warranties won’t cover tires. That means if you purchase the vehicle and the tire treads are already worn, you’ll have to spend hundreds of dollars replacing those tires with new ones.

Therefore, make sure you check the treads of the tires before you purchase the vehicle.

7) Get Third-Party Financing

Car dealerships will usually have their own financing options available. The problem is that it is hard to qualify for a low-interest rate loan with them.

A better option is to get third-party financing and just use that to pay the dealer in cash. They may even give you a special discount if they get paid in full and you just make payments to an outside financial institution.

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