How to Buy a Used Car

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However, you can give the car a pretty good initial inspection. Always be ready to walk. If it looks good, then you can pop for a full inspection, which will cost you about $100. This site lists used cars for free. Here are four good ones to check out: But don’t spend all your savings.

Options. In others states, such as Florida, some dealerships charge as much as $700 for doc fees. AutoTrader. Mechanical condition: Listen for any unusual noises or vibrations that could indicate worn suspension parts or tires. If the lender is a bank, offer to meet the seller in a branch office and sign papers there.

So I’d be willing to buy it for $10,000.” Once you find several cars for sale in your area — but before you physically inspect them — look up that car model in a pricing guide such as Kelley Blue Book . Instead, make an offer that is on the low side, but still enticing. On independent used car lots, you often see a sign in the window saying that the vehicle is “certified,” which can mean almost anything — and usually means nothing — about the condition or reliability of the car. Start by pointing out any concerns you have about the car’s condition. Don’t be trapped in the sales office.

If a car has been driven more or less than this, the price is adjusted accordingly. A dealer has the ability to register the car for you, which is convenient. Read more This covers all the parts that make the car driveable, such as the engine, transmission and suspension.

Chances are, the seller is asking more than the market average. Make sure you know if you're talking about the “out-the-door” price, which includes all taxes and fees, or just the sale price of the car. Before you drive across town to see the car you’re interested in, run a vehicle history report . Power collect maintenance reports from owners and rate all used cars. Every used car is different.

Up to this point you haven’t actually driven the car you’ve chosen. Are you the first owner? Ask about fees before saying yes to a deal. CPO cars are thoroughly inspected and include an extended factory warranty.

However, this does not influence our evaluations. If you’re paying cash, budgeting is pretty simple. Shopping for a used car is like going on a treasure hunt. These are special features installed when the car was built, such as a navigation system.

Most pricing guides give you several different prices. When you bargain with a car salesperson at a car lot or dealership, keep in mind that you're dealing with a pro who knows all the tricks. This online used car superstore is a good place to look because it has a large inventory and no-haggle pricing.

For example, you can say, “I like the way the car drives. Mileage. It’s a quick way to know if you should seriously consider buying this car. But on new car lots, “certified” means the car's in a certified preowned (CPO) program, which have become very popular and make used car shopping a whole lot easier. Once you sign the sales contract, the car is yours.

Here, sellers pay to list their cars. It’s best for low-end cars in your area, but be careful about scammers. Can I have the car inspected by a mechanic? Many manufacturers now include “powertrain” warranties up to 75,000 miles. Pay attention to the following things: CarMax also offers an included warranty and provides financing.

There are plenty of incentives to buy used instead of new: It will save you money on car insurance, registration, taxes and depreciation, which is the loss in a car’s value due to wear and tear over time. Serious accidents are reported to the insurance company and will probably be on the vehicle history report. If his counteroffer still seems too high, you can either stick to your guns or invoke the time-honored phrase, “I’ll meet you halfway,” and split the difference. The model is sometimes called the “trim level.” For example, when looking up a 2015 Nissan Sentra, XE is one of several trim levels. Now, you'll not only see if you like this model, you'll also have to decide if this particular car is worth buying.

So take your time reviewing the contract and don’t let yourself be pressured into signing just to get it over with. Plan to put about 10% down and finance the car for three years. If the finance manager can’t explain a fee in the contract, ask to have it removed.

Before taking ownership of the car, you should add it to your insurance policy. This may influence which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. Paid sites are better at keeping out scammers and usually provide a list of mid- and high-end cars.

Remember to set aside money for registration and insurance — and possible future repairs. It’s easy to get confused, so go slow or even write down the numbers thrown at you. But it really needs a new set of tires.

Are the service records available?

How to Buy a Used Car


p>How to Buy a Used Car The difference between "clean" and "outstanding," for example, could easily be $1,500. Don’t let a salesman leave you alone while he “goes to talk with his boss.” Instead, roam around the showroom or go get a cup of coffee. How did you set the asking price? Then, here are some basic questions to ask: If you’re at a dealer, even if you have a preapproved loan to pay for the car, the dealership’s finance manager will probably offer to beat the terms of the loan. Narrow the field by making a list of must-have features.

Now the fun begins — picking your car. Lowball the seller and they won’t treat you as a serious buyer. Some dealers might give you pushback, claiming they’ve already inspected it.

He is the author of 10 books. First, verify the information you read in the advertisement. It’s nice to think the car you’re interested in was driven to church by a little old lady for its entire life. State sales tax . Our opinions are our own.

Brakes: Are they responsive and predictable? Some have been driven more miles and have more wear and tear. Ideally, the total of your monthly auto expenses shouldn’t be more than 20% of your monthly take home pay. This allows you to dodge a common trap set for buyers by salesmen: convincing a buyer to focus on the monthly payment rather than the overall cost of the car. Here’s an overview of the steps you’ll need to take to buy a used car. (If it isn&#x27;t a used car you want after all, check our guide on how to buy a new car .) This “doc fee” is limited in some states.

It’s not unusual for some vehicles to be trouble-free for well over 100,000 miles. It seems crazy but the dealership actually charges you for filling out the contract. Visibility: Are there any blind spots? About the author: Philip Reed is an automotive expert who writes a syndicated column for NerdWallet that has been carried by USA Today, Yahoo Finance and others.

You really don’t need to take a CPO car to your own mechanic. If you liked driving the car, and it seems to be in good condition, you should still take it to a mechanic. For example, if you have a family, you’ll want enough room for everyone plus ample cargo space. However, if you’re someone who likes to see and touch the cars you’re considering, there are countless used car lots across the country where you can do just that.

This means prices are clearly posted on the cars and negotiating is not allowed. The contract will include the agreed-on sales price and these additional items: Some dealerships might include additional fees, some of which are bogus. Buying an extended warranty at the right price can provide peace of mind.

This is a percentage of the cost of the car. Do you have the title and is it clear? (A clear title shows there are no liens on the car.) Typical annual mileage on a car is about 12,000 miles. Craigslist. If you have a preapproved loan, you&#x27;re a cash buyer as far as the dealer is concerned and you should negotiate on the price of the car, not the size of the monthly payment.

Don’t be a monthly payment buyer. If you&#x27;re buying the car from a dealer, look at the “Dealer Retail” price. It also makes sense because cars have never been more reliable. Most people take out a car loan so they can protect their savings and buy a more expensive model.

If you order the report, you&#x27;ll know for sure each time it changed hands. Start low, but in the ballpark. Here is some of the important information you&#x27;ll learn: Select a test drive route that has a little bit of everything: hills, rough pavement, curves and even a stretch of highway. Acceleration and cornering: Does the car have enough power? How does the steering feel?

If not, it’s worth it to buy one. There are really only two ways for you to buy a car : Pay cash or take out a loan. Now it’s time to blast the sound system and see if your phone connects via Bluetooth. If you&#x27;re buying from a private party, and there is still a loan on the car, call the lender to find out how to close the deal.

When you look up a price, include the following information: And besides that, the book value is only $10,500. A quick chat will answer lots of questions and save time. When in doubt, check the state’s registry website for more information.

Some dealers include bogus fees to take back profit they lose in negotiating. Drive the car with the radio off — you can test that later. Go ahead and insist if you have any doubt about the car&#x27;s condition. It doesn’t hurt to see if he or she can get a better interest rate. Using the vehicle identification number (VIN), you can get a detailed report of the car’s history from Carfax or AutoCheck.

But, in general, you want to make sure you&#x27;re choosing models known for their dependability. AutoList. Steer clear of cars with a salvage title because it kills the resale value, and the car might still have hidden problems. This site is an aggregator — it pulls together information from many different areas into one searchable site. There are amazing deals out there, and with the emergence of the Internet as a car shopping tool, you have every chance of finding a good deal on a car that meets your needs and fits your budget.

Several automotive websites, such as Kelley Blue Book&#x27;s Five-Year Cost to Own or Consumer Reports&#x27; Cost of Vehicle Ownership, show estimates of these expenses. You can go back and forth until you agree. Then, you only need to pay for the car — usually with cash or a cashier’s check. Now, it’s up to the seller to either accept your offer or make a counteroffer. Use an auto loan calculator to compute the best loan for you.

Ergonomics: Can you easily reach all the gauges and controls? Uncontrollable buyers keep salespeople off balance, which can help you in negotiations. Private party sellers are pretty relaxed about this. Documentation fee . However, the insurance company will issue a “salvage title” to alert future buyers.

Then, improve your offer slowly, perhaps in increments of $250. Registration fees . Take some time to think about how you plan to use this car. In some cases, online classifieds will have links to free vehicle history reports. Make sure you get a title and have the seller sign it correctly.

As you move forward, build a list of three target car models to research in more detail. Shady car lots might spin the odometer back to increase its selling price. Most used car lots have the cars in their inventory posted online. Compare the seller’s asking price to the average market price you determined on the pricing guides. You’ll see later how preapproval fits into the process.

Then, search for models with those features using tools such as Car Finder on Most states allow about 10 days to register the car in your name. Does this car have a clean title?

If a car’s been in a serious accident, fire or flood, and was “totaled” by the insurance company (declared a total loss) it still might be driveable. Make sure to price your current car if you plan to trade it in at the dealership. You might also notice that pricing guides tell you what the car is worth as a trade-in.

Before the contract is drawn up, the finance manager will also likely pitch you additional products and services. After the test drive, check the back-seat leg room and cargo capacity. If you aren’t making progress toward a deal, or you don’t like the way you’re being treated, just walk out.

Some cars are cheap to buy, but will cost a lot in the long run because of insurance, maintenance, repairs and depreciation . It’s tricky to know what’s legit and what’s just included to boost their profit. Let’s say the seller is asking $12,000 and your research has told you the car is worth only $10,500. The vehicle history report can alert you to this scam. Ask for a breakdown of additional fees before you agree to any deal. You can use the guide to estimate the market value of the actual car you’re looking at by assessing its condition based on factors such as age, mileage and options.

Read the descriptions of the condition levels carefully. CarMax. It’s smart to get preapproved for a car loan because it simplifies the buying process and puts you in a stronger position at the car dealership. AutoTrader allows you to easily filter by year, make, model, price range and features.

Year, make and model. A closely related issue is the total cost of ownership . Once you have the price, if you want to make a deal, you’ll have the information you need to negotiate effectively. Is there any important information that wasn’t in the ad? But it doesn’t have to be stressful, particularly if you’ve done your research and have a good idea what the car you want is worth.

Consumer Reports and J.D. No goodbyes are necessary. Here is a list of our partners and here&#x27;s how we make money.

Condition level. Just make sure all the other terms of the loan are the same. Here’s the part that everyone dreads: negotiation. Unless you&#x27;re a mechanic, you can’t be expected to inspect a car thoroughly. Some reports show if required maintenance was done on time and where the work was performed.

But check first to see how much warranty still remains on the car. There are a lot of websites that list used cars, and each site seems to have its own character. Here are a few tips to use on the car lot: If your next-door neighbor is the seller, you should look at the “Private Party” price.

If safety is a top priority, check out the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety for crash tests. Negotiate slowly and repeat the numbers you hear. Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us.

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