Tips on Buying a Used Car

In tough times like these, it’s more difficult to afford a brand new vehicle. Most people are turning to used vehicles instead. However, when considering a used vehicle, many are faced with rumors and negative reports. Can’t afford a brand new car? Looking a good, reliable, used car without the hassle? Recently my friend and I went car hunting because he was starting school and needed some sort of transportation to get around. He too was considering a used vehicle. He ended up getting a really decent and dependable one and based on our experience, here are some tips.

To facilitate the process from the beginning, have a car brand, model and price range in mind. That way when you research the pros and cons you will be able to narrow it down to the specifics. It’s good to take the time to read other users and consumers’ reviews. This will help you get a better idea of what situations you might be getting yourself into. Look at ratings for different car brands and see what their overall ratings are. Make sure that there are no major mechanics failures or replacements for the type of model you are interested in or in the long run you’ll have a lot of money being spent on maintenance alone. If you spot out a car, make sure you determine the appropriate current value of the vehicle by looking it under the Kelly Blue Book (which is available online) and determine the condition (Excellent, Good, or Fair) to average its value. We found out that the seller we bought the vehicle from was selling it hundreds above the blue book value so we brought it to their attention and they lowered it to the current value.

Whether you are interested in a vehicle owned by the original owner or from a dealer or from a used car lot, make sure that you get the VIN # from them. You should also verify the car has authorizes car spares and car parts. They should provide this to you with no problem. If they can’t, or refuse, something is wrong and you’ll want to avoid the car and even the place at all costs. The VIN# basically contains the vehicle’s entire history which can be looked up on Carfax online ( a month’s worth of unlimited use account cost $40, and a one time use account costs $20, somewhat pricey, but definitely worth it). By plugging in the VIN # into Carfax you will be able to review the vehicle’s entire history, including any accidents, and repair work made at repair shops, the number of owners, and whether the vehicle was considered salvaged (if the car has been considered salvaged – definitely forget it!). The car we ended up buying had a clean history so we felt more confident in purchasing it.

Make sure you get to view and inspect the vehicle thoroughly. My friend and I even took the car out for a couple of test drives. Inspect the way the car handles, the engine, the brakes, fluid levels, the body work, and the interior (even the power windows and A/C if applicable). If there are some cosmetic blemishes, point it out to the seller and see if they can offer an explanation for the damage and a discount. Ask to see the service records. A lot of records is a good thing and indicates that the owner did routine checkups and maintenance on the vehicle. My friend even requested that that the seller take in the vehicle for a current diagnostic test just to make sure that the vehicle is up and running fine and he and the seller agreed to split the cost (the test usually only costs around $55-$75). This is just an additional safety precaution/guarantee if you decide to do so.

Other tips that are recommended would be that when you are checking out a vehicle or paying for the vehicle, make sure you bring a buddy with you to be extra safe. The world is not perfect, and sometimes even what may seem as the best deal ever can turn out to be a scam. Also, it’s probably better to purchase a used vehicle from an original owner rather than a dealer or a used car salesman. Usually dealers and used car lots will mark up the cost significantly higher and won’t offer discounts because they need the extra money to pay off space/lot rentals and vehicle maintenance. Plus, original owners will know more about the history of the car and can offer you most of the necessary information up front and possibly be more willing to negotiate for a more reasonable price.

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