So, you’ve gotten as many miles out of the old girl as possible. She’s starting to cost too much to maintain, but buying a new car is not an option. What do you do? We’ll you can drive that old beater until you finally decide to leave it, abandoned and forgotten on the side of the road as you hoof it to the nearest sign of life, or you could have thought about picking up a used car for less than new…and you still would have had something to trade in.
Here’s a step by step check list:
Step 1: Starting out.
If you’ve decided to buy a used car, you’ve already made a smart decision. You can get a car that’s almost as good as a brand-new one, without suffering the depreciation that wallops new car buyers as soon as they drive the car off the lot. Used cars — even those that are only one year old — are 20 to 30 percent cheaper than new cars.
Step 2: Locating the right used car.
At the beginning of the car-buying process, many people already have in mind the car they want. It’s possible that you need to expand your horizons when considering what to buy. You might want to think of other vehicles in the same class. These cars were built for the same market, but they often have different features at lower prices.
Step 3: Used car bargains.
The cost of a used car is based on its condition, mileage, reliability, performance and popularity. Of course, you want a car that is reliable and performs well.
Step 4: Research your prospective used car.
One vital step to getting a great used car deal: you have to run a vehicle history report on any used car you are considering buying. Several companies sell these reports, which are based on the vehicle identification number (VIN), but Carfax seems to be the most comprehensive. You will find out the vital information about the used car including whether or not it has a salvage title (it has been declared a total loss by the insurance company) or evidence to reveal if the odometer has been rolled back. This is also the time to decide if you want a Certified Used Car.
Step 5: How much can you afford?
The smart shopper will consider how to finance the car at the beginning of the shopping process. This will avoid unpleasant surprises later in the game and help you make an unemotional decision that fits your budget.
Step 6: Set up financing for your used car.
You have three ways to pay for your used car: Financing through a bank, on-line lender or credit union, financing through the dealer, or cash.
Step 7: Used car markets.
There are advantages to buying a used car from a new car dealership. Many used cars, on new car lots, are trade-ins. Dealerships usually get these cars at rock-bottom prices. If you make a low offer — but one that gives them some profit — you just might get a great deal. Furthermore, many dealerships offer certified used cars that have been thoroughly inspected and are backed by attractive warranties.
Step 8: Test driving a used car.
Used car shopping will involve inspecting the vehicle to determine its condition. This process is simplified if you buy a certified used car that has passed a thorough inspection and is backed by a manufacturer’s warranty. But while buying a certified used car removes a lot of the guesswork about the vehicle’s mechanical condition, you pay for this service. Try to arrange your test drive so that you start the engine when it is completely cold. Some cars are harder to start when they are dead cold and, when doing so, will reveal chronic problems. Turn off the radio before you begin driving — you want to hear the engine and concentrate on the driving experience.
Step 9: Negotiating for a used car.
Whether you are buying a used car from a dealer or a private party, let them know you have the cash in hand (or financing arranged) to make a deal on the spot. Preface your offer with a statement like, “I’m ready to make a deal now. I can give you cash (or a cashier’s check) now. But we need to talk about the price.”
At this point, you need to have a persuasive argument about why the price is too high. So let’s talk about pricing. The foundation of successful negotiation is information. This is particularly true when buying a used car. And yet, the condition of used cars means prices will vary widely.
Step 10: Closing the deal.
Once the contract is ready, review it thoroughly. In most states, it will contain the cost of the vehicle, a documentation fee, a smog fee, a small charge for a smog certificate, sales tax and license fees (also known as DMV fees). Make sure you understand the charges and question the appearance of any significant, sudden additions to the contract.
Finally, you should inspect the car before you take possession of it. If any repair work is required, and has been promised by the dealer, get it in writing in a “Due Bill.” Make sure the temporary registration has been put in the proper place and — you’re finally on your way.
There you have it…trade secrets revealed. If you need a used car, show you appreciation for the tips above by swinging by and taking a few for a test drive.