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Tips on How to Buy a Used Car the Smart Way

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Car Buying Tips

Buying a used car is a wise choice for many people. It’s a financially sensible decision because vehicles that are three to five years old experience the greatest percentage of depreciation. This means that consumers can save thousands of dollars on previously owned vehicles. A purchaser can even affordably upgrade to a better class of car.

However, there are other considerations to take into account than just the money saving features because finding a car that suits you requires a bit of legwork. When scouting for a used vehicle, you should consider what type of car fits your lifestyle, how much you can afford, and whether you should buy it through a dealer or private seller. Here are some tips to help you through the search process so that you can ultimately find the perfect used car.

The Groundwork:

Before you begin your search, make a list of all of the things that you want and need in your car. Some of the items should include what model and year you want to buy. What choice of colors is considered suitable?  How much trunk space is required? What is the minimum mileage on the vehicle that you will find acceptable? Do you want some warranty left on the car? If not, do you want the option of getting extended warranty? Would you like a sunroof? Are high-tech features, such as satellite radio or Bluetooth capability essential? Which is more important to you, a fuel efficient car versus power and jazz?

You should also check out some consumer reports, including auto reviews, blogs or forums. These sources can provide you with a wealth of information regarding any make, model or brand that you might be interested in buying.


Decide on how much you can afford and how you are going to finance the car. You should remember to take into account the cost of your car insurance. In addition, include fuel costs, maintenance costs, replacement parts, resale value and additional warranty if that’s an option. If you have a trade-in, this will reduce the amount required for financing the car. There are several ways to finance a used vehicle, such as dealing with a dealership, a bank loan, or going into your savings for the purchase.

Where to Look:

The most obvious place to start your search is to look at the websites of local dealerships. You can review whether they have the model car you want to buy at the price you are willing to pay. However, be cautious and deal with only a registered car dealership.You can run into costly mistakes on repairing technical problems once you own the car, so only deal with a reputable location. A dealer in good standing should inform the customer about the basics of buying a used car. They will be transparent about the car’s condition and provide the customer with a vehicle history report. They will service the car properly so that it is road worthy for sale. Some dealers offer a peace of mind seven day return policy if the car doesn’t suit the customer’s needs once they have acquired it.

If nothing catches your eye during your Internet search of the dealerships, there are always the classified ads in the local newspaper. Auto trade publications are another good source for finding a used car that fits your requirements. While these last two options may advertise vehicles at reduced prices because they’re private sales, there is always the risk of buying a car from someone with undisclosed problems. A private seller should provide you with a copy of the maintenance history of the car so that you feel confident that the vehicle has been routinely serviced.  If relevant documentation isn’t available, have the car mechanically inspected by someone you know and trust to get an unbiased assessment of the car’s condition. After all, it’s your money and buying a used car is a costly proposition.

The Test Drive:

The first thing you should do is take the car for a test drive and drive it like you own it. Spend at least thirty minutes driving on different pavements, road conditions and at varying speeds. Once you’ve evaluated the audio system, turn it off. Make a mental note of everything you feel or hear in the car such as the ride, any unusual noises, the ease of maneuvering the steering wheel, the traction of the tires, the comfort of the seat, the response of the brakes, the sound of the heater or air-conditioner, or anything else that’s important to you.

Negotiating the Deal:

For most people, negotiating a price for a car can be a frustrating and unpleasant experience, but rely on your instincts because they are your best guide. You’ve done your research and now you’re in a position to be firm about your offer. Let the seller know that it’s a done deal once you have arrived at your target price, but if something about the deal doesn’t feel right, you should walk away. You’re the buyer offering the proposal, so be confident in yourself because you are the one making the final decision.

In the end, buying used cars is becoming more appealing because of their improved reliability and lower costs. When properly maintained, today’s cars can easily operate past 100,000 miles without any major problems. Although finding a used car that’s right for you requires a bit of research and legwork, it will prove to be beneficial in the long run because you did it the smart way. –Find Me A


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