If you’re in the market for a used car, there are several tried and true tips for getting the most value for your dollar. So, before you start shopping for a mechanic or looking up Costco gas station hours, decide on the make and model of the used car you want to buy. Later on, there will be plenty of time to figure out how to save on fuel and repairs. First things first: buy a quality used car for the best possible price. Whether you live in a large or small town, the following three strategies will work to your advantage when you go car shopping:
Know Your Price Points
When you’re shopping for a used car, the Internet is your best friend. Use sites like Kelley Blue Book and TrueCar to look up average prices on cars that interest you. Be as specific as possible when it comes to things like trim level, miles on the odometer, year, make, model, body condition, number of previous owners and MPG.
If you can narrow down your preferences to the molecular level, you’ll be able to find a very accurate price range for the car you desire. That leaves less wiggle room for the seller and gives you a leg up in negotiations. Whether you buy from a dealer or an individual, know your price parameters before shopping. Stick to your guns on a minimum amount you’re willing to pay and don’t make many concessions on your needs.
Look for These Things When Test Driving
When you test drive a used car, always have someone along with you to take notes while you do the driving. A second pair of eyes and ears is invaluable when car shopping. Listen for any unusual noises on hills, highways and during starts and stops. Note any odors coming from the engine or elsewhere.
If possible, get the owner’s permission to take the car to your own mechanic for a routine inspection. Honest sellers will often agree to discount the car by the inspection expense if you purchase it. Some will agree to split the inspection fee with you whether or not you buy.
Avoid Fraud: Inspect All Documents Before Buying
Don’t become a victim of fraud. Make sure all the documentation is kosher by finalizing the transaction at your local DMV office. Anyone who balks at making the trip to sell you their car might have something to hide. Alternately, if someone has a valid reason for not meeting you, in person, at the DMV, get copies of all relevant documents and check them out before writing a check. Never pay cash for a used car.
Things like pink slips and inspection reports can be faked so check out VIN data, previous ownership and other pertinent info. And don’t forget to ask to see the driver’s license and one other form of ID from the seller. Verify that the person selling you the car is in fact the person you’re dealing with.
Be mindful of frauds who say things like, “I’m selling it for my dad. He’s in the hospital.” Pass up any deals where the seller uses questionable tactics, won’t let you copy important documents or refuses to go to the DMV to transfer the title. Better safe than sorry. And if a seller insists on cash, walk away and don’t look back.
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