Many businesses buy used cars simply for economic reasons. When you buy new, you’re usually looking at ongoing payments and considerable interest. A car that is only a few years old may sell for fifty percent less than the current year’s model. During the first year, a new car will lose at least twenty percent of its value, so buy smart.
According to Landers McLarty Dodge Chrysler of Huntsville Al, the biggest fear in buying a used car is that it has hidden or unknown problems. Most dealerships are now responding to this by offering Certified Used Vehicles. When you buy a used car from a good dealership, you can trust that it has been through comprehensive physical and mechanical inspections. When you buy a certified used car that is only a few years old, you can usually expect it to be nearly on par with a brand new car.
Buying directly from a dealership has become far less challenging as dealerships have responded to a higher demand in consumer standards. Of course, you should perform due diligence in any large purchase – and a car is likely to be one of your biggest purchases. No matter how good a car looks, or how good the salesman makes it sound, it’s still smart to arm yourself with plenty of information before handing over the check. Here’s how:
1. Be Prepared-Do Your Homework
With a purchase this big, you can’t afford to shop unprepared. Set your budget and know what you’re looking for. You don’t necessarily have to settle on a specific year, make and model, but knowing what style and approximate condition you’re looking for can help you to narrow your search.
In fact, if you do have a specific car in mind, it’s smart to broaden your horizons a bit to consider similar vehicles. There are some big names on the market, and with these big names come big price tags. If you’re willing to widen your parameters a little, you may find something just as good at a far lower price. For example, you may be in the market for a Toyota Matrix; however, you might be just as happy with a Pontiac Vibe – a less-known vehicle, but one made in collaboration with Toyota, and with many of the same parts as the Matrix.
Don’t base your whole decision on looks or reputation. Some cars look and seem wonderful when they’re new on the lot, but a little research might reveal some glaring flaws that show up a few years down the line. Take time to read consumer reviews on any car that you’re interested in purchasing. No car is perfect, but some simple research can prevent you from ending up with a lemon.
Additionally, make sure that you know the approximate value of the vehicle you’re interested in. By checking out your car on Edmunds.com or KBB.com, you can get a good idea of an appropriate price range for your desired vehicle. If a car is listed considerably higher or lower than its market value, don’t be afraid to walk away.
3. Be Cautious
While you can find some great deals on cars by dealing with private individuals, this is an area where you must exercise extreme caution. An individual isn’t operating under any regulations, so privately listed vehicles are rarely at the same level as those you would find at a dealership. That’s not to say that you should avoid private sales altogether; you just need to pay greater attention to any possible problems or flaws.
There’s no such thing as “too careful” when you’re buying a car – whether it’s used or new. Take as much time as you want to check out the car. Take it for a test drive and put it through its paces. See how it performs at low and high speeds, on sharp turns and quick stops. Make sure that it doesn’t pull to one side or the other, and that there are no strange clicks, rattles or whines while it’s running. Remember that there are plenty of cars out there, so don’t settle for one that seems questionable.
If a car checks out after your initial test drive and inspection, ask if the dealership can provide a VIN history check through CarfFax or a similar service. Make sure that you get the vehicle’s complete history. If the dealership (or individual) is unable to provide it, it’s worth the small investment to purchase the VIN check online for yourself. This will alert you to any possible red flags, accidents or potential problems.
Before agreeing to the purchase, make sure to have the car inspected by a mechanic that you trust. Point out any problems you may have noticed, and ask questions about anything that seems problematic. Your mechanic should be able to either lay those fears to rest or alert you to potential problems. Again, this is a small investment compared to the price you’re paying to purchase a car, so don’t skip this step.
A few dealerships have a “one price” policy, but most are very open to negotiation – in fact, it’s expected. Many used car dealerships have about a $2000 margin for profit when they set their original prices. What that means for you is that you have $2000 worth of bargaining power. Don’t be afraid to use it.