Buying any car is a gamble, but this is particularly true with a used car. In an ideal world, you’d have the knowledge to pop the hood yourself and assess the vehicle’s condition. But this is becoming increasingly rare, especially as cars become more dependent on complex computer systems. Here are five tips for buying a used car that will minimize your risk of being dissatisfied with your new vehicle, even if you don’t have mechanical skills:
- Do Your Price Research
Before you head off to local car dealers, do some research and educate yourself on prices. This can help you recognize a good deal when you see one, and also prevents you from making unreasonable demands a salesman simply can’t accommodate. Yes, you’ll probably pay more for a used car from a reputable dealer than if you picked one up from a private party on Craigslist. But you’re also paying for the research, service level and legal protections afforded by working with a professional business. And regardless, you’ll be paying less than you would for a new vehicle.
- Consider Recent Model Years
Buying a vehicle that’s only a few years old won’t get you the cheapest used car, but it might get you the best value. New cars depreciate most steeply when they’re first driven off the lot, and they’re often traded in for newer models before there’s anything mechanically wrong with them. This means you can get a car in excellent—sometimes like-new—condition that will retain its value for years to come.
- Research Various Certifications
Some used car dealerships offer “certified” pre-owned cars. But what does this really mean? Look into any certification programs to see if you’re really getting a better guarantee or if you’re simply paying extra for a certificate.
- Take a Test Drive
A test drive is even more important when buying a used car than if you’re buying new. The reason is you’re not simply getting a feel for a model; you’re getting a feel for this particular car. Pay particular attention to handling, if you feel any tugs on the steering, and how the engine sounds as it changes gears.
- Trust Your Dealership
Ultimately, the most important part of buying a used car is trusting the seller. Do your research on used car dealers to ensure the dealership is reputable. At that point you can relax, respecting the opinion of the staff as expert advice, and not predatory sales techniques.
Do you have any tips to make used car shopping less stressful? Share in the comments.
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