Buying a Used Car - Tips and Scams to Avoid
Buying a used car can be a tricky process to navigate because no two cars are the same. Each car has a unique history which can either work in your favor or become your biggest nightmare. In addition to the steps required to get a good deal on a new car, when buying a used vehicle there are additional steps you must be aware of.
One of the most important steps is to make sure to run a used car history report in addition to having a certified mechanic inspect the car on a lift. Why should you spend your hard earned money on a mechanic? It's better to pay for a mechanic now than spend thousands on repairs later.
You need to be very careful when buying a used car. You can easily end up with a lemon or rebuilt car. When you see a horrific wreck on the highway you probably don't realize that many of those cars end up repaired, rebuilt and sold on the used car marked.
There are positives to buying used. Most importantly you will get more value for your dollar since somebody else took the huge hit on the initial depreciation. This hit is the largest source of lost money when buying a car. By following our used car buying guide you will learn how to avoid the common scams and pitfalls.
Six Step Roadmap to Buying a Used Car
1) Find the Right Used Car for You
This step may seem obvious but you shouldn't just go out to used car dealerships and start the shopping process. First you should search the online used car classifieds. Go to the local newspaper websites to view the automotive classifieds to view ads for cars that are close to you. However, to get the largest selection we recommend that you use the larger sites with thousands of listings like the ones mentioned below
2) Investigating the Car's History
Most Important Tip to Follow when Buying a Used Car
Whatever you do, you should never buy a car without first verifying what you are buying by running a history report. I get a ton of emails from people that ended up buying a used car and later finding out it had been wrecked. There are body shops that are professionals at making a car look good. It can happen to anybody. If the VIN isn't clearly listed in the ad and the seller won't give it to you then move on to the next car. They are most likely trying to hide something. Since you are normally buying a used car "As Is," you will want to know about any problems before the purchase.
CarBuyingTips.com recommends the AutoCheck 25 report package. It gives you the ability to run 25 reports over 21 days so you will be able to compare the histories of the cars you are seriously considering.
3) Financing a Used Car
Financing is handled differently depending on whether you are purchasing from a dealership or a private party. Either way, most banks will not give you a loan for a car older than 4 or 5 years. In general, you will pay at least 2% higher APR for a used car than you would on a new car loan but you can offset this by using an online lender that specialized in financing used cars such as the ones we recommend. Try to have your credit score over 680 because you will be considered a prime borrower and get the lowest possible APR. If your credit is really bad you might want to try and repair it before you buy a car.
4) Negotiating Like a Pro
Out of all the steps to buying a used car, the one-on-one negotiation is the most daunting! You need to use all of the available information to your advantage to drive the price down. Before you begin negotiating, invest the time to do all of the research we recommend. Since there is so much to learn about negotiating, we have written a full page of advice for you.
5) Closing the Deal
Now that your price negotiating is complete, it is time finalize the transaction. You should never pay cash because if something goes wrong you may have trouble getting your money back. Besides, carrying around large sums of cash is dangerous. You should pay with a credit card if possible or a check of some type (personal, official check, etc.). With a credit card or check you have a paper trail and some recourse available if something goes wrong.
One of the trickiest things to deal with when finalizing the purchase of a used car is when the seller still owes money on it. This should only occur when you are buying from a private party. The lender is holding the title and you must make arrangements with them to have the note paid off and the title transferred to you.
6) Get an Extended Warranty to Protect Your Purchase
If you buy a used car that is no longer covered by the manufactures warranty, you are at risk for expensive repairs. That's why CarBuyingTips.com recommends that you get an extended warranty any time you are in this situation. In our extended warranty section, we review high quality warranty sites like CARCHEX and a strong competitor of theirs, Warranty Direct. Both of these companies offer extended warranties at much lower prices than you will find at dealerships. If you buy a 3 or 4 year old used car, chances are that the manufacturer's warranty has expired and you will be liable for the repair costs. Don't be fooled by high mileage "powertrain" warranties as these do not cover most common problems. Do your research to determine what is actually covered by the manufacturer and what isn't.
If you bought your car from a private seller it will always be "As Is". I don't think you really have any choice in this case and you must buy an extended warranty or you are taking too much risk.