Setting out to shop for used cars can be daunting. There are thousands of cars out there, and selecting the perfect one takes time, patience and common sense. A snap decision based on eye appeal might leave you with an expensive car that doesn’t suit you. Nor do you want to snatch the cheapest car and find yourself the proud owner of a lemon.
Before you head to the car lot, decide how much you can afford for the down payment and the overall car. Arrange the necessary financing. A good rule of thumb is to keep car payments lower than one fifth of your net pay.
Once you are at the dealership, shop with purpose. Have an idea of what you want, research and compare prices, and make sure you get key details on used cars of interest from the seller. Ask about the car’s history and performance. You can fact check vehicle records easily through several online databases.
When you’ve found one or more used cars that appeal to you, get cozy with them. Test seats, explore trunks, pop hoods and check fluids. Go over each car for structural issues. Don’t worry about minor scrapes, but do watch for misalignment such as closed doors that don’t align with the frame, a sign of previous damage. If you’re not sure what to look for, bring a car-wise buddy or consult the owner’s manual.
Last but not least, take the car out for a spin. Accelerate to highway speeds, test the car on corners and hills and brake hard to check for braking capability. Consider driving the car to a mechanic for an inspection. When you settle on a car, your next step is to negotiate with the dealer. If you’ve done your research, you will know the car’s value and can bargain accordingly. If you have prearranged financing, the dealer may compete by offering lower rates to your benefit.
Doing your homework is key to finding the right used cars. Follow the steps above to buy a car that will go for thousands of kilometers.