When you want to buy a used car, you need to be prepared for what could happen during the process to get the best deal.
New car dealers, used car dealers, and private sellers sell these pre-owned vehicles. All three types of sellers can use various methods to try and sell a car to you. No matter who you’re dealing with, you’ll want to get the best deal possible. This means doing some work before you ever contact the seller to find the vehicle. Here are ten tips to help you find the right car and the best deal.
1. Determine Your Budget
Whether you finance the vehicle or choose to pay cash out of your bank account for the model you want, you’ll need to figure out how much you can spend. Once you know your budget, you need to use that figure for shopping. You will likely find a seller willing to lower the price of the vehicle, especially considering the increased cost of used cars today. Now that you have a budget, you can move on to the next step.
2. Research Vehicles to Create a List of Features
Are there some features you need in the used car you drive? If so, these items need to be on your list. Do you know how big the vehicle should be? How many seats are you looking for? Is fuel mileage vital to you? These are all questions you need to ask when making your list. As you work through this, you’ll quickly find that some vehicles don’t cut while others are part of your list and might have everything you desire.
3. Try to Trick the Market a Bit
While many gimmicks won’t work very well, you’ll probably get a better deal if you buy an out-of-season vehicle. This requires a great deal of preparation to get the right car. If you live in an area where you’ll need a snowplow in the winter, buy a big truck for this task in the summer. If you want to drive a convertible, look at doing this during the winter months when they aren’t quite as popular. This is one way you can trick the market a little.
4. Perform a Wide Search for the Right Vehicle
If the right car for you to drive is 200 miles away, are you willing to go that far to pick it up? You should be. Casing a wide net helps you find many vehicles that fit your needs and desires, giving you the suitable model to drive and enjoy every day. Don’t stick to only your local area; you might find a great vehicle at a much better price in the neighboring town or across state lines.
5. Check the Price for the Right Value
If the seller is asking too much for a car, you need to know this. Buying a used car can be tricky with different pricing for the same model. You need to take the vehicle’s price, mileage, and condition into account to figure out if the seller is asking the right price. Use research tools such as Kelley Blue Book, Black Book, or Edmunds to determine the price you should pay.
6. Check Out What a Dealership Offers
Even if you’re not planning to buy a used car from a dealership, you should visit the lot and see what they are asking for similar models to what you’re after. You want a location that offers a no-hassle, no-pressure sales environment. Otherwise, you’ll be pushed into questions and conversations you might want to avoid. If you do find what you want at the dealership, that’s great, but don’t go there with the intent of buying unless they have the car you want.
7. Test Drive Several Models
This part of the shopping experience could take a lot of time. If you’re buying a car from a private seller, setting up meetings for various test drives can take time and become a scheduling issue. This is something else you could do when you visit your local dealership. It’s important to get a feel for different types of vehicles before making a buying decision. If you test drive a car you think is right for you, perform a complete inspection of the car before you sign any paperwork.
8. Don’t Be Afraid to Walk Away
You’ve done your research and found the car you want, but it’s time to walk away if something isn’t right. This could be a vehicle history report with an accident, several holes in the maintenance records, or a drive that doesn’t fit. If you’re buying from a dealership and spend more time waiting for the salesperson to get answers than you think is reasonable, there’s nothing wrong with walking away. There are millions of used cars on the market, and you only need one of them.
9. Deconstruct the Deal at the Dealership
Buying a used car can feel like a shell game. While much of what used to take place is no longer allowed, it’s not hard for a dealership to lump all parts of the deal into one package to make it look like you’re getting a good deal. Take all these parts separately and try to get a great deal on each one. If you need to, get your financing, and sell your car independently. These only leaves are selling you a vehicle for the dealership to do.
10. Close the Deal
The final step in buying a used car is buying the vehicle. If you’ve done all the homework, taken several test drives, and found the right vehicle at the right price, it’s time to close the deal. Sit down with the salesperson at the dealership or the private seller and finalize the paperwork that makes the car yours. You’ve done all you can to get the best deal for the pre-owned vehicle you’ll start driving today.
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