Buying a used car is a delicate process. If you are thinking about doing so, here is a brief guide that will help you make a decision:

First, Set Your Budget

It may be tempting to first start looking for a car to buy without deciding on a price. But this is a major mistake. A used car can be as expensive as a new car. You may have to take out a car loan to pay for one. Therefore, you should know exactly what you can afford before browsing what to get.

To set your budget, first, understand what your requirements are. Are you looking for a family car to transport spouse, two kids, and a pet? Or are you looking for a daily commuter vehicle for a single person? For the former, you will need to spend significantly on an SUV. For the latter, your budget can be flexible.

The price of thecar will not depend on the make and model alone when you buy used. You will have to calculate extra for financing and interest and make deductions for aspects like miles driven. You can use an online auto purchase calculator for the purpose. Once you have done your research, set your budget to find your ideal used car.

Find out Where You Can Buy Used Cars

There are specialist dealerships for used cars than newer models. You can buy the best prices by searching for what you need online. You can start with an online business directory or a local listings website like Craigslist. There are also niche websites like Auto Trader, AutoList, and Car Max that you can browse for used vehicles in your area. You need to check out these sites rather than looking for models on major retailers like Amazon. Don’t forget to check out the classifieds section of your local newspaper, which is where you are most likely to find the best used local cars.

Narrow Down Your Choices

Once you have all the used cars you like on your hand, it’s time to narrow down the list to the ones that meet your budget and requirements. To pick the car, check if the listings meet your original requirements for the number of passengers, cargo hold, safety, type of fuel used, and so on. It’s also important to check the safety of the model. Go to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety website to get crash safety results. It’s also wise to Google the model to make sure it has not been recalled at any point. There are several other aspects to consider that is listed below.

Check the Ownership Title

When you buy a house, you will always check the title deed of ownership to ensure a clean transaction. The same rule applies to ownership. Don’t assume that the person selling the used vehicle also owns it. Cars are properties with titles of their own. You should demand to see insurance reports and other documents that pertain to the ownership of the vehicle. Then check the identity of the seller to make sure the actual owner consents to the sale. You can get in serious trouble for buying a stolen car. So, take this step seriously.

Run a Background Check on the History of the Car

All used cars have stories behind them. You would want to make sure the one you buy has a clean story. There are many reasons to research the history of the car you buy. The main one is dependability; the history will indicate how long the car will last in your care. Secondly, you should know if the car has been in accidents or natural disasters like floods. A car could still be drivable while declared a “total loss” by the insurance company. You would want to know if the vehicle has a “salvage title” notification issued by the insurance company.

Check the vehicle history report of the insurance company to check thehistory of accidents. This history report is also important to make sure the odometer has not been tampered with. The details will indicate how much maintenance the car will need in your care. Ideally, you should buy a vehicle with a short and clean history as much as possible. The price of the car must ultimately reveal this history.

Inspect the Vehicle and Arrange a Test Drive

Once you have checked out the vehicle’s history, you can decide if the car is worth buying. You can contact the seller at this point and arrange an inspection and a test drive. During your inspection, you can check the condition of the car and info like mileage driven. Ask for the service records and other documents. It’s strongly advised to have a professional mechanic inspect the car.

If the inspection is satisfactory, you should arrange for a test drive, as you would with a new car. Test drive for an hour or more on a variety of terrain to get the feel of the car. Make sure the brakes and acceleration are working properly. The car should have enough power for steering and cornering. Some models lose this as they get older. If the model is new to you, you should be able to drive it comfortably. Make sure you can reach the gears easily. When you drive, you can check the driving condition of the vehicle as well, such as noticing whether there are any funny noises when braking for example.

Negotiate the Price

Don’t go for the advertised price of a used car. The vehicle is used, so the price is always negotiable. Most buyers dread this part of the sales process. But if you research the vehicle as explained above, you will have the upper hand in negotiations. But first, you need to see if the car is priced decently.

Consider the mileage driven, age, make, model, and year of the vehicle. It should be reflected in the price. It’s worth spending some extra if the car has been modified with special features like a GPS navigation system. The price should be adjusted depending on mileage cutoff marker of 12,000. If the car is driven more, the price should significantly come down from the original retail price.

When you make a counteroffer for a reduced price, always tell the seller the reason for doing so. Be polite about it and don’t get into a fight. With patience, you will be able to negotiate a decent price that fits your budget.

Once you have negotiated a price, you can close the deal. This can be a complicated process that involves transferring the title of the car, signing over insurance, paying state sales taxes, and so on. So don’t rush to close the deal.

Last updated by at .