Used car buying basics

If you are in the market for a used car, you may be able to get the car you want at the price you want to pay by buying from an individual instead of a dealership. You can start looking for used cars in your local newspaper, or you can stop by a gas station or car accessory store and pick up publications that are dedicated to listing used cars for sale. The internet may also be a good resource for searching for individuals who want to sell their cars.

Once you have picked out some used cars you are interested in, you may wonder what to do next. This can be particularly intimidating if you don’t have a great deal of knowledge or experience in dealing with cars and their mechanics. Here is a basic checklist of things to do when buying a used car from an individual.

Do your research
Doing your research can help you out with many aspects of buying a used car. A good place to start is with price. You can compare the asking price of a car to the asking prices you find for other used cars of the same make and model. Look into what other individuals are asking, as well as what used car dealerships and car appraisal resources recommend. You can use this information as leverage when you are negotiating price so that you can get a fair deal.

You’ll also need to do some research about what kind of maintenance the car you are interested in requires. Check out consumer satisfaction publications so that you know how a car ranks among its buyers. Also consider this: Though you may be attracted to a used luxury car because you can afford it, the repairs on high-end models can be quite costly. Considering these aspects of buying a used car can help you prepare for the maintenance costs after you make your purchase.

Check out the exterior
Doing a thorough inspection of the outside of the car is an essential step when buying a used car. Aside from looking for dents, be sure that the bumpers fit the body of the car without gaps and check to see that all of paint is uniform in color without any major chips or scratches. Also be sure that the doors open and close easily and completely and that the front and rear windshields are flush with the body of the car. Once you go through your exterior checklist and decide that everything is in good shape, you can move on to the rest of the car.

Check the interior
Before you take the car for a test drive, you will want to be sure that all of the interior functions are working properly. Check to see that the upholstery is in good condition and that the windows roll all the way up and down. Also be sure that the heating and air conditioning work, as well as the radio, CD player and headlights and brake lights.

Turn the key and go for a drive
If everything checks out in the interior of the car, take the car out on the road. Though you probably won’t be able to experience all kinds of driving and weather conditions on your test drive, it is good idea to go up and down hills, experience driving the car in stop-and-go situations and, if you can, on the interstate. It is important to determine if you are comfortable in the car, but you should also listen and feel for inconsistencies when driving.

Have your mechanic check it out
Regardless of whether you hear or feel anything when you go for a test drive, you should hire a mechanic to do a thorough inspection of the car. Point out any problems that you encountered and find out if they are serious and how much they will cost to repair. Also be sure that the car is up to par on emissions tests and safety features. Your mechanic should point out any repairs or maintenance procedures that could be needed in the near future and tell you how much you will be expected to pay.

Remember that buying a car is big deal, not only because of the money you spend upfront, but also because you will need to spend more money over time. Use your best judgment and make a checklist that helps you get the car you want with the price and features that suit your lifestyle.


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