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There's a lot of trepidation associated with buying used cars. We hear horror stories from our friends and relatives about buying a lemon off some stranger on Craigslist or getting swindled at car dealerships. However, your experience doesn't have to resemble what those people went through. 

In truth, most car dealerships are full of honest, hard-working people just like you. However, you may want to be careful when buying a used car from a private seller. While most people aren't out there to take advantage of you, private sellers aren't bound to any governing entity other than their own conscience. 

The key to buying a used car is asking the right questions. We're here to help you do just that. Keep reading for everything you need to consider when buying used cars.

1. What Can I Afford?

First, you need to think about your budget. How much of a car payment can you afford each month? How much money can you get approved for?

Roughly 80% of American workers live paycheck to paycheck, mostly because they bite off more than they can chew. Just because you can get approved for a $30,000 loan, it doesn't mean you can comfortably afford the monthly payments. Think about your budget and leave a buffer space to avoid financial strain in the future. 

You also need to consider the other costs associated with buying a car. For example:

·         Sales tax

·         Insurance 

·         Registration fees

Account for these costs to accurately determine how much you can comfortably afford to spend on your car. Then, explore your financing options.

2. What Kind of Vehicle Best Suits My Lifestyle?

You may be wondering about the major benefits of used cars. Primarily, buying used cars allows you to expand your horizons in terms of luxury models and extra features due to the rate of depreciation

A brand-new, fully-loaded SUV could cost upwards of $60,000. The same SUV a few years later could cost as little as $40,000 or less. Though the technology won't be brand-new, the quality and features of the vehicle will still be high-class.

Therefore, you need to ask yourself, "What type of vehicle best suits my lifestyle?" Is it a luxurious, fully-loaded SUV or a rugged truck for outdoor hobbies? Used car prices allow you to indulge and get the absolute best car for your needs.

3. Can I Negotiate the Price?

Whether you're talking to a private seller or a salesperson at a car dealership, you need to ask about price negotiation. A private seller will be difficult to predict. They may have a strong sticking point or be willing to drop to meet your demands. 

When meeting with dealers, understand that used car prices include several other legitimate dealer fees, such as sales tax, documentation fees, destination/delivery fees, and preparation fees. While these fees are important for ensuring the dealership actually makes money off of car sales, some of them can be negotiated.

You may also receive a better price or waived fees if you choose to use in-house financing provided by the dealership.

4. Do Any Used Cars Come With Warranties?

Depending on how old the car is, you may be entitled to extra or preexisting warranties. For example, most brand-new vehicles come with five-year factory/manufacturer warranties that cover the major components of the vehicle. If the car is within those five years and hasn't exceeded the maximum mileage, the warranty may still be active.

However, your dealership may also offer an extended or used car warranty. Certified pre-owned vehicles, while slightly more expensive, always come with renewed warranties. 

If you're working with a private seller, you may need to contact the manufacturer to check on the status of the vehicle's warranty.

5. Can I See the Official Vehicle History Report?

Buying used cars in the modern age isn't a gamble like it was a few decades ago. Now, most vehicles carry extensive history reports that follow them around everywhere they go. Ask the seller to see a copy of the vehicle history report.

The history report should include general maintenance, common auto repairs, major damages or mechanical failures, number of past owners, recalls, and other important information. You will even be able to tell if the vehicle was ever used as a rental or lease.

Seeing the vehicle history report is especially important when buying cars online. However, poor record-keeping could hide vital issues with the vehicle.

6. What Do Other Owners Say About This Model?

One of the best things about buying used cars is that there have been thousands of others who have owned the same make and model before you. Conduct an internet search on the year, make, and model for customer reviews. See what people like and dislike about the vehicle. 

Pay attention to how the car drives, common maintenance issues, reliability, gas mileage, and other practical information.

7. Can I Test Drive the Car and Take It to My Mechanic?

Finally, when buying used cars, taking a test drive is a must. This is important for several reasons.

First, you need to make sure you actually like driving the vehicle.

·         How responsive are the steering, braking, and acceleration?

·         Is it comfortable?

·         Is it practical for your needs?

·         How is the road noise?

·         Do you like the driver features?

Next, you need to make sure everything is working as intended. While parked you should go through each of the components:

·         Power seats

·         Power windows

·         Airconditioning and heat

·         Heated/cooled seats

·         Stereo/speakers

·         Windshield wipers

·         Etc.

While driving, make sure all of the instruments work, such as the speedometer, odometer, heat gauges, pressure gauges, etc. You should also make sure none of the warning lights are on.

Finally, you may want to take the vehicle to your own mechanic. This is especially important when buying a car from a private seller. If they're not willing to let you take it to a mechanic, they may be trying to hide something.

This is one of the major downsides fo buying cars online. It requires a lot of trust in the seller and you won't be able to test drive the car.

Interest in Buying Used Cars?

If you're in the market for a new vehicle, you have a lot of options. We suggest taking your time when buying used cars to make sure you're making the best choice. Remember, most people aren't out to get you, but asking the right questions can be incredibly beneficial.

If you have questions for us, we'd love to answer them. Contact us today and we'll get back to you as soon as possible. Otherwise, feel free to check out our pre-owned inventory