You can’t believe the time has finally come. It’s a time you’ve been dreading for a while now. You find yourself pacing back and forth rubbing your hands together. You just hope you make it through. No, you’re not giving a speech in front of thousands of people or jumping from a plane to do some skydiving: You are buying your first car. And honestly, the latter can sometimes be the scariest option.
Many people truly shudder at the thought of going through the process of buying a vehicle, especially if it is a used one. It often involves dealing with aggressive salespeople and unfamiliar cars.
But luckily, a potential car buyer can avoid many of the possible pitfalls of buying a used car simply by doing a little research before ever stepping foot in a car dealership.
Here are a few “must-knows” to get you headed in the right direction towards your new vehicle.
1. Do Your Homework
Ah no! Not the dreaded “H” word! Yes, the fact is that you will likely have homework for the rest of your life, even if you are no longer a student in school. But doing a bit of research before heading to a dealership can really save you.
First, find the types of cars you are interested in. Look up several makes and models, so you can be open-minded when you go car shopping. Know ahead of time what kind of cars are known for durability and high performance, even in older models. Know the car’s reputation.
In addition, you should absolutely research the going price for these certain vehicles. This will help you make an informed financial investment.
2. Shop at Family or Friend-Recommended Dealerships
If you choose to purchase your vehicle through a dealership, it is important to know that dealership’s reputation. The fact is that not all dealerships are created equally. Some are more knowledgeable than others. Some are more honest than others. Ask friends and family you trust for recommendations before shopping around. This will save you a lot of headache (as there are a lot of dealerships to choose from!) It will keep you safer as the consumer, having a reason to trust the salesperson who helps you.
3. Be Firm About What You Want
While some car salespeople are respectable and concerned about your desires, it is sad to say that several are simply there to “make the sale.” In other words, they’d sell you that cardboard box sitting on the sidewalk if you let them. For this reason, it is imperative that you know what you would like before you begin shopping. Know what types of cars you like. If a salesperson tries to sell you something, even after you have said “No, thank you,” don’t give in to the pressure. There are plenty of other dealerships that would gladly accept your business. Remember who will be driving that vehicle for years to come.
4. Test Everything During the Test Drive
Once you do find a vehicle you are particularly interested in, it is time for the test drive. What’s important here is to remember to test everything, rather than simply making sure it drives nicely. In addition to the obvious functions of a car, such as speed and good handling, you should also check the small things like lights, windows, keyholes, and interior buttons. Check the air conditioning and heat. Check the interior thoroughly to see if it is really in the shape it appears to be. Don’t just take the salesperson’s word for it. And never be embarrassed to be thorough while the salesperson is in the car. Again, who will be driving that vehicle if you make the purchase? That salesperson is simply there to help you. (Or should be.)
5. Pay Attention to Mileage
You should definitely check the car’s mileage before making a purchase. A good rule of thumb for most vehicles is that if it is over 100,000 miles, you should be cautious. After this mileage, vehicles often begin to break down and have mechanical or electrical issues. However, this is not always the case. For this reason, doing some homework before shopping, so you know what vehicles are reliable after this point, will undoubtedly serve you well during your car search.
6. Get the Car Checked Out
It is important to note, however, that things might not always be as they appear when it comes to mileage. In fact, many things with the car may not be exactly as they seem. For this reason, it is essential that you take the vehicle to a mechanic or knowledgeable friend or family member before purchasing the car. Having someone you trust do a thorough inspection on the car saves you from any headache later on down the road. It saves you from surprises after the purchase is made. This is perhaps one of the most crucial things to do during your shopping experience.
7. Get a CarFax History Report
Another way to check that the car is what it appears to be is to request a CarFax report from the dealership. This is a report that tells about the car’s history. It will explain if the vehicle has ever been in an accident. It will tell if the car has a salvaged title. And it will show the car’s true mileage. among other things.
8. Buy a Car With a Warranty
The truth is that you just never know what will happen with your car down the road. If you can, you should buy a car with an existing warranty. Find out what the terms and conditions on the warranty are, as it can be of great benefit for you in years to come. As most car owners can testify, you’re likely to run into a few unexpected issues with your car. Knowing about your warranty can enable you to seek coverage when these issues arise.
9. Bring a Negotiating Buddy With You
A lot of haggling goes into buying a car, which really is rather unfortunate. If you’re not the type of personality to argue with someone over a price, you might want to bring a buddy along who is particularly good at negotiating the price and terms. Even if you do enjoy the negotiations, it is never a bad idea to have a buddy there to support you. After all, there really is strength in numbers.
10. Before Buying, Understand All Costs and Insurance
And finally, before you ever make your used-car purchase, you need to make sure you can afford it. And this doesn’t just include the price of the car. You need to make sure you can responsibly care for the vehicle through consistent maintenance and when unexpected problems do come your way.
In addition, make sure that you are able to properly insure your vehicle in order to keep others, as well as yourself, safe in the event of an accident. Shop around for quality insurance. Get several green slip quotes. Make sure you are ready to safely and responsibly drive that new car of yours on the road.
And there you have it. Shopping for your next used car really doesn’t have to be that nail-biting, hair-raising experience you were anticipating. If you do your homework ahead of time, you should be just fine.