8 Things You Should Do Before Buying a Used Car

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Buying a used car is a great way to save money and not fall victim to the constant lease and re-lease cycle. If you do your research on prices and models and know what you want, a used car can work out for your life and fit all your needs. However, there are many horror stories about purchasing used cars, even if they are only a few years old. You often hear or read about people buying five-year-old cars and leaving the lot with a host of issues that are not covered by the dealer or private seller.

This can set people back thousands of dollars, which defeats the purpose of buying a used car in the first place. But, if you want to save money and own your own car, there are some ways to buy a used car smartly and without encountering problems. It comes down to doing your research and knowing the facts about the car you want and the person you’re buying from, among a few other things. Here are eight things you should do before you buy a used car.

1. Know the Model of Car You Want
Before you buy a used car, you should know what make and model car you are looking for. Always research your options, look at ratings for reliability, and take into account your lifestyle and plans. If you hope to have children soon, you may not want to invest in a two-door vehicle, for instance.

2. Research and Compare Prices
The next step is researching and comparing prices. You should always know the going rate for the vehicle you are looking for, as well as the rates that that car in a different year goes for. You can look up this price on Kelley Blue Book or another similar database, and come equipped when you go to buy.

3. Crunch Some Numbers and Look Into Loans
Make sure you know what is realistic for you to pay, given your budget. You should also decide whether you will be paying all in cash or getting an auto loan. A car loan calculator can help you estimate your monthly loan payments given your credit score and the interest rate you’re looking at. If possible, get pre-approved for a loan at a good rate before you head to the dealer.

4. Find the Right Dealer or Private Seller
When buying a used car, it is important to purchase from someone you trust. This could be a dealership that is highly rated online, a salesman that a friend recommends, or someone you know personally. It is important to exercise caution when you buy from an individual, though, and you may want to conduct a free people search on the person you are buying from to make sure they have a clean record.

5. Get Your Test Drive Strategy Down
Do your research on test-drive strategies before you get behind the wheel. Know what you should be keeping an eye out for both internally and externally, and make sure you test all the features of the vehicle before you make your decision.

6. Get Ready to Negotiate
Negotiating is one of the most nerve-wracking parts of buying a car. Make sure you stay confident, calm, and come armed with all of the knowledge you accrued from your research on the car of your choice.

7. Consider CPO or Other Insurance Options
After you’re happy with the price on your used car, you will likely be offered some additional options, such as a certified pre-owned option or some extra insurance. Decide whether these choices are right for you and hold firm when they are offered.

8. Take Maintenance Seriously
Now that you own a car, you will need to make sure you take the maintenance of that car seriously to avoid future issues. Oil changes, tire rotations, and keeping all the fuel and wiper fluid liquids in check are great ways to maintain your vehicle.