Buying used is a great way to find a previously owned car that fits both your budget and lifestyle needs. However, it’s hard to get over the idea of the oily used car salesman in a polyester suit trying to sell you a dud. It’s important to remember that there are risks associated with buying any car, new or used. By taking the time to research your options thoroughly, you’ll avoid the following common mistakes and end up with a car that’s not only in great shape, but a bargain to boot!
1. Not Doing Preliminary Research
One of the biggest mistakes you can make as a used car buyer is going into a sale with little to no knowledge of what you’re looking for. Spend some time getting acquainted with the different options on the table, so that you can narrow down which features you are looking for in a car. You may already have a specific model in mind, but if not you could look for recommendations from auto news websites. Many compile the best cars in each niche category, whether you’re looking for a family car or a budget-friendly commuting vehicle.
2. Not Looking at the Vehicle History Report
It’s important to remember that not all car accidents are reported. To know exactly what you’re getting into, it’s helpful to request a vehicle history report. This is usually readily available when you purchase a car from a dealership, but with private sellers you may have to request it. Sites like AutoCheck.com and Carfax.com offer these reports for a small fee, which can be well worth the cost to avoid buying a secret clunker. You can also ask for a mechanic’s inspection report from a used car dealer, which will let you see its maintenance history in detail.
3. Not Checking the Fuel Consumption
It’s easy to get caught up in factors like the car’s condition and price, forgetting about what it will cost you in the future. Running costs are a very important part of the equation, so you’ll want to find out what kind of mileage each car offers.
4. Not Comparison Shopping
In today’s fully wired economy, it’s worth your while to use all of the comparison tools at your disposal to find the right car. This may entail looking at cars outside of your immediate locality on auto listings websites. If you’re willing to travel, you may snag a far better deal than you would find in your immediate neighborhood. It’s also worth looking at several different listings sites to compare prices before you contact any sales. For example, if you know you want a 2012 Honda Accord, you can check pricing websites like Edmunds.com and Kelly Blue Book for some idea of what its value should be. With this in mind, you can also then compare Honda listings on listings sites like carsales.com.au, craigslist, or Car.com to find the best deal. Private sellers tend to offer lower prices, but there is a bit more risk involved.
5. Not Getting a Second Opinion
You can lower the risk of buying used by taking a knowledgeable friend along to test drive a car, or arranging for an inspection from an independent mechanic shop. Even if a car seems perfect on paper, getting a second opinion from a qualified mechanic can save you a world of problems down the road.
By keeping these simple mistakes in mind, you can avoid them and find the right used car to fit your budget.
Photo courtesy of: Nicole S