Buying a used car from an individual

As your family’s living situation changes, so will your needs for transportation. As an empty nester, you may find that you no longer need the same cars that you had while your kids were living in your house. Or you may decide that you would like a used car to keep at a vacation home. Regardless of your reasons for deciding to buy a used car, it is important to know what you are getting into. Here are some tips for empty nesters who are considering buying a used car from an individual, rather than a dealership.

Figure out how much you can afford and your financing options

Determining how much you can afford goes beyond the purchase of the car itself. You will need to research cars and investigate gas mileage, maintenance procedures and the cost of repairs. You should also figure out how much certain cars cost to insure. This kind of research can help you stay within your monthly budget after you purchase a car. Use the auto loan calculator below to help decide how much you can spend.

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Once you figure out what kind of car you can afford to buy and maintain, it’s time to determine how you are going to finance your purchase. If you have enough in savings, you can avoid making monthly payments and paying interest by purchasing the car in cash. For most people, it is best to avoid cleaning out your savings account to buy a used car. To play it safe, be sure you have enough money left in savings in case of a financial emergency.

If you need a car loan to finance the purchase of a used car, you will need to shop around for the best rates and terms. That way you can avoid more money than necessary in interest.

Shop around for the best car at the best price

There are a number of great sources for buying used cars from individuals. Here are some good places to start:
  • Your local newspaper’s classified section and local publications dedicated to used car sales
  • The internet
  • Car accessory stores

Ask questions and check out the car

Once you find cars that you are interested in looking at, you’ll need to get some solid answers from the individual who is selling the car. Ask the seller why he or she is selling the car, if there are any repairs or maintenance procedures that need to be done and if the car has ever been in an accident. If the seller alerts you to problems with the car that could be expensive or unsafe and you cannot afford to take care of these problems, don’t buy the car.

If you feel like everything is ok with the car, do a thorough inspection of the interior and exterior of the car before you make an offer. You should also take a test drive. Even if you don’t see or feel any problems on your inspection or test drive, have a mechanic check it out so you can avoid buying a costly or unsafe used car.


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