Five Things Every Used Car Buyer Should Do
Bob Ross may have liked mistakes, as he called them “happy accidents.” However, there’s nothing happy about used-car buying mistakes. Not doing enough research, failing to shop around, and buying the wrong vehicle can all lead to bigger problems down the road. For most people, the car buying process is a mystery, and car dealerships and their sales people know this. Educated consumers, however, can overcome the mystery and get the upper hand when it’s time to make the purchase. Following are five things that every used car buyer should do before they make a decision.
With the internet so close at hand, there’s no excuse for not doing research. There are plenty of used car websites online as well as sites that compare vehicle prices, safety records, fuel efficiency and a variety of other factors. A savvy car buyer will research vehicles available in their area, both through dealerships and private sellers. They’ll also research the most recent prices and resale value of any vehicle they’re interested in. This gives a buyer a huge amount of bargaining power.
2) Take a Test Drive
Unfortunately, some people shop with their heart instead of their own common sense. They may like the make, model, and color of a vehicle and think that’s all they need to know when making their choice. The truth is, those things aren’t what really matters. It’s important to take a test drive to determine how well the car starts, stops and handles. It’s advisable to take along a mechanic or trusted friend that knows a little about vehicles to avoid buying a lemon.
3) Shop Around
Many times, car dealerships say their best price is the one that’s on the sticker. That may or may not be true. Rather than taking their word for it, it’s best to do some online price shopping first. One dealer may be several hundred or even a couple of thousand dollars cheaper than the next. It’s also possible to find a private seller who is willing to let the vehicle go for even less than what a dealership can. Keep in mind, however, that a dealership will often offer a warranty, whereas a private seller will not.
4) Know the Trade-in Value
Buyers who are thinking about trading in a vehicle should begin by looking for the Blue Book value. While this is what a car may be worth to a dealer, it does not indicate its true market value. It’s also important to understand that car dealerships need to make a profit and rarely pay the full Blue Book value for a car. It’s smart to wait until a price has been settled on before mentioning a trade-in. Doing so beforehand gives the dealer the upper-hand because they can easily rework the numbers in their favor.
5) Choose Wisely
Buying a big four-wheel drive truck for city driving or a small compact car for off-roading doesn’t make any sense at all. Even if it’s a great deal, choosing the wrong vehicle can lead to buyers remorse down the road. So, what is the best vehicle? For the most part, larger vehicles are best suited for big families and those who need the hauling capacity. Smaller vehicles, on the other hand, are better for city drivers, individuals and smaller families.
Buying a used car can be a bit of a challenge, especially for someone who has little or no experience. However, with a little research and some common sense, it can be very simple. Taking the time to test-drive the vehicle and having it checked out by a trusted mechanic are highly recommended actions. A used-car buyer who knows what their current vehicle is worth will gain the upper hand in any negotiations. Finally, determining exactly what car, truck, SUV or van is best is a matter of looking at how it will be used. Once a used car buyer understands these simple steps, they are more likely to find the perfect vehicle at a price they can feel good about.