Buying a Used Car: The Best Way

Our experts offer data-driven advice on “Shopping Tips During the Global Microchip Shortage” if you’re purchasing a new or used vehicle during this difficult economic time.

The original version was written when inventories and prices of vehicles were more stable and predictable before the pandemic. Its main points remain relevant. Setting a budget, finding the right car, and researching prices are still the keys to finding a good deal.

A used car isn’t the only option you have. Every year, nearly 40 million used vehicles are sold by private parties and dealerships.

How much money will you have to spend on a car?

Your car payment shouldn’t exceed 10% of your take-home pay if you’re taking out a loan to buy your car. Try to spend even less if you are on a tight budget. There are times when used cars need a little extra attention, such as new tires and maintenance. Fuel costs and insurance costs are often overlooked.

You should list the used vehicles you want to target

Good used cars include the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV-4. Their prices, however, may be higher than comparable Ford Escapes or Kia Sportages. Therefore, if you’re looking to save money, consider buying multiple brands. Picking three cars that suit your needs and fall within your budget is a smart move. 

Here is the Price

Where you shop affects the price difference. There are used cars sold through new car dealerships, independent used car lots, buy used car retailers such as CarMax, and private-party websites that list used cars for sale. The private-party websites tend to sell the cheapest used cars. We have outlined why CPO cars can be the most expensive. The Edmunds Suggested Prices are listed on each vehicle’s inventory page.

Online used car sales

It is possible to filter your search based on a variety of factors, such as the number of miles on the odometer, the price and features of the vehicle, and the dealer’s location. Many other websites offer similar methods of finding a vehicle in your area.

History of the vehicle should be checked

Unless the car is being sold by a close friend or family member who can verify its history, it is a good idea to obtain a vehicle history report. You should act fast. It is best to find out whether a car you want has a bad history report as soon as possible.

Contacting the seller is possible

Do not rush to see a car you like immediately after finding it. Contact its owner first. Verifying the car’s information and building a relationship with the seller are extremely beneficial. You can ask private sellers why they’re selling their car or if it has any mechanical problems. When you are buying from a dealer, the best way to determine if the car is still available is to call or text.

If the seller mentions something not in the ad, you may decide not to buy the car. Ask yourself the questions on the used car questionnaire if you want to dig deeper. Our list concludes with the asking price of the car, which is the last item on our list. Even though many are tempted to negotiate before seeing the vehicle, it is better to wait before doing so. Its condition will determine how much you offer.

Before buying a car, test it out

Test-driving used cars can help you determine which make and model is right for you. You can also use this method to find out how well the car is maintained. Do not get distracted and pay attention to what you’re seeing.

Check your car regularly

Mechanics should inspect a used car before you purchase it. For reviews of local shops, Google and Yelp are good places to look. Pre-purchase inspections can reveal problems you were unaware of otherwise for $100-$200. Make sure you have to take advantage of them.

A private seller is likely to have little resistance to this. For an outside inspection, most dealers will let you borrow a vehicle. However, this service will cost you. There is no need to take CPO vehicles to an independent mechanic because they have already been inspected and covered by a warranty.

It That Possible to Negotiate a Good Deal

Is it uncomfortable for you to talk about numbers? Probably not. Negotiations need not be stressful. You should be able to reach an agreement fairly quickly and easily as long as you are reasonable and have a plan.

  • Before buying a car, it is important to determine your budget. However, this should not be the starting point of your discussion.
  • Based on your average paid research, make an opening offer below your maximum price. You backed up your offer with facts according to Edmunds or other sources.

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