Do This, Not That: Tips for Buying a Used Car
By: Good2GoPublished: April 17, 2013
If you’re in the market for a new car, but don’t want to spend a lot of money, you may want to consider buying it used. Now we know what you’re thinking: “I don’t want to buy a smelly, old, rundown piece o’ junk.” And we hear ya. But doing so could save you big bucks. However, it can also lead to unexpected surprises and costs if you’re not careful. Lucky for you, we’ve put together a list of do’s and don’ts for the next time you visit the used car dealership.
Do your research ahead of time, not an hour before heading to the dealership. If you want the best possible price for your budget, know what you can afford and know which cars/models you are most interested in. Then narrow it down to a top three to make the search easier.
Do set a reasonable budget. The economy is still rough, folks. Take the time to sit down and crunch the numbers on your bank account. Calculate what your bills are going to look like the next few months, and factor in the cost of car insurance and potential repairs and services.
Once you’ve got a number or range to work with, you’re ready for the dealership. Find a car that piques your interest and check the vehicle for signs of wear and tear. Dents, dings, scraps and scratches are telltale signs of abuse. And if that’s what the outside looks like, you should consider the inside.
Do ask to see service and repair records. It’s ok to be skeptical when looking at a car that has seen better days. In fact, it’s expected! If at any point you feel unsure about the true condition of the vehicle – inside and out – ask to see the car’s service history. If these records cannot be produced or appear inaccurate, walk away since the previous owner was probably doing their own off-the-books repairs. You can see some of the funnier and more resourceful DIY car repairs at Good2Go’s Rig it 2 Win It Contest. They may not be the safest repairs, but they sure are the most inventive and someone will win $1,000 just for sharing theirs with us.
Get your car checked by a mechanic you know and trust. Easier said than done, but having a reliable mechanic check out the internal workings of your vehicle will save you plenty of headaches down the road. They will be able to check your oil, transmission fluid and coolant to ensure that your car is in tip-top shape.
Perhaps the Golden Rule for buying any car from a dealership is: don’t get emotional. Are your eyes welling up from tears of joy at the sight of what could be your new car? Keep them to yourself. Your emotional response at the dealership is like shark bait – with dollar signs. Be cool, calm and collected, and if the chance permits, play hard to get.
Don’t buy from just anyone. That hunk of junk from off the side of a road with a “For Sale” sign hanging off it is there for a reason. It’s extremely risky buying cars from questionable sources. The car’s history is far less traceable and there’s a possibility that this vehicle won’t come with a guarantee.
With that in mind, don’t sign the dotted line without asking about the dealer’s return policy. Be sure to get it in writing and read it carefully.
Don’t purchase your new vehicle without taking it for a test drive first. When you get behind the wheel, see if the car is a good fit for you – literally. Do you have enough head room? Leg room? Arm room? A good rule of thumb is if you aren’t comfortable sitting in your car, you aren’t going to be comfortable driving it. When you turn on the car, listen to engine noises. Test out the brakes. See how well it accelerates under normal driving conditions. These are important car features that should not go overlooked.
Lastly, don’t get distracted by the dealer’s pitches for added features such as extended warranties, rust proofing, anti-theft devices, and other fees. It’s all smoke and mirrors. While you will have to pay some fees such as sales tax, vehicle registration and delivery fees, everything else is open for negotiation.
Now that you’ve got new wheels, it’s time to hit the road – legally. The final step in your car purchasing process is auto insurance. Most states, with the exception of New Hampshire, won’t let you drive your vehicle unless you meet your state’s minimum auto insurance requirements. The last thing you want is to get into an accident in your brand new used car and have to pay for car repairs and medical injuries out of pocket. Luckily for you, Good2Go auto insurance offers minimum coverage to all drivers, helping them get on the road for less. You can get an auto insurance quote online in minutes and once you’ve purchased your policy, you can get instant proof of insurance.