Things to Look for When Buying a Used Car

So you know you are in need of your next vehicle. The big question is should you buy new or used. There are many pros to going with a used car. These include a lower purchase price, the ability to afford a nicer car, that you could not afford if it was new, a lower depreciation rate, lower insurance and sale tax rates, and many more. Some may think it is risky to purchase used. But, if you do it the right way, this is simply not true. Follow these tips for your used car shopping process!

Where to Buy

There are various places to purchase a used car. The general rule of thumb is if you find something that seems too good to be true, then it probably is, especially if it is a private sale. Your best bet to come home with a car that is in the great condition you are told it is in, is to shop at a certified car dealership. Dealerships have certain standards, and in general, put all used cars through a thorough inspection before putting them for sale on their lot.  Often times, you are even offered a warranty in case anything goes wrong. Dealerships also have a wide variety of cars to choose from. This gives you a chance to compare similar cars and find what's is best for you. 

Consider the Things You Need and the Things You Want

To help you make the choice in which model to purchase first make two lists. What are the things you must have in a car? If you need seating for more than five, that automatically eliminates many vehicles. Do you need towing and hauling capacity? Then you know to focus on pickups and large SUVs. Is safety an absolute top priority? Then you will know to focus in on models that are 2-3 years old, knowing they will have all the modern technology you would want. Vehicle must-haves are going to be different for everyone. Beyond the things you can't go without, you will have many 'wants'. These are things that you would really love to have in your vehicle, but, if not, it will not hinder your everyday driving. It is still a good idea to make a list of your wants, though. That way, if it comes down to choosing between two models, you can easily see which one has more of what you want. 

Read Over Reviews

The internet allows you to read dozens of reviews of the car you are considering buying. You can find relevant information on professional sites, like Edmunds and Consumer Reports. These can come in handy when you have your list narrowed down to, say, five or fewer cars. You might know, at this point, that all of your possibilities are reliable and high-quality vehicles. But reading what other owners have to say about them will give you a little more insight into what it might be like to own the vehicle. 

View the Vehicle in Person

Most people know the importance of a test drive. But it is also important to spend time with the car before you take it out on the road. Will you be using baby seats in the rear passenger area? Bring the seats along and make sure they fit. Do you have children that will be riding in the car on a regular basis? It might be worth having them test out the ease of getting in and out of the back seats. Try out the radio and connectivity technology. Is it modern enough for you? Does the touch screen have good ease of use? Look at the fabrics and finished in the cabin. Are they comfortable and up to your standards? Look at the exterior of the car both up close and a few steps back. Is the color still to your liking now that you see it in person? 

Go for a Test Drive

Take the car on a test drive on both local roads and highways. On local roads, you can feel how the car shifts and how it brakes. With a trip on the highway, you can see if the acceleration is to your liking. Is the driver's seat comfortable? How is the road noise? Can you see out ok? Are all the cabin features within easy reach? This is the final test of how your car fits you, so make it worthwhile. 

Review the Vehicle History Report

A vehicle history report can help you see title problems, ownership history, service points and previous accidents, large or small. Most dealers include this when you purchse a vehicle. While the dealer may point out anything of note in the report, make sure to read it yourself, just to make sure. 

So you have found your perfect vehicle. One that is in your budget, has all of your needs, and hopefully a bunch of your wants. You have checked out the inside and outside of the car, and you have taken it on an extensive test drive. You have also determined it has a clean vehicle history. The only steps left are to finalize your financing...and drive away in your new (but used) car!