Choosing a used car can be a great way to get a high-quality vehicle on a tight budget. By following a few steps, you can ensure that you pick the right used vehicle and avoid making mistakes that could cost you more money in the long run. Here are several things to keep in mind when you’re on the hunt for a pre-owned car.
Decide What Type of Vehicle You Want
This may seem like an obvious point, but it’s important to be clear in your mind about the type of vehicle you need before you start looking at used cars. Used cars make for a wonderful first car for teenagers and college kids alike. One reason for this is that you may run into a pushy salesperson who tries to persuade you into buying something that won’t really meet your needs.
Check the Vehicle’s Market Value
Once you’ve identified the type of car you want, do some research to find out its market value. This will give you a good idea of whether the seller is asking for a reasonable price. To determine a car’s market value, you can use online tools from sites like KBB and Edmunds. All you need to know is the make and model of the car, how old it is, and how many miles it has been driven. Once you know the average market value, you can use this information to help you negotiate.
Inspect the Car
Even if you’re not an expert on cars, you can tell a lot about the condition of a used vehicle by looking at it carefully. Examine the interior seats and paneling to see if there are any stains, tears, or other damage, which may be a sign that the car has not been treated well by the current or previous owners. Pay attention to any smells you notice inside the car as well. For example, a musty or moldy smell can indicate water damage. You should also check the exterior paintwork for dents and scratches, and also look at the tires to make sure they have an even tread.
A quick look under the hood at the engine can also tell you a lot. For example, if you see oil leaking from the engine or notice a burning smell, this can be a sign of engine trouble.
You may not need to perform an inspection if you purchase a certified pre-owned vehicle from an auto dealer. At Huffines Kia McKinney, our pre-owned and used vehicles are inspected by our team of expert auto mechanics to ensure that they’re in good condition before we offer them for sale.
Ask the Owner Why They’re Selling
Most owners will be able to give a straightforward explanation of why they’re selling their car. For example, a common reason is that they want to buy a new one. However, if you ask this question and the seller struggles to give a convincing answer, this may indicate that there are problems with the vehicle that they haven’t told you about.
Take the Car for a Test Drive
If you’re happy with the results of your initial inspection and the condition of the car, the next step is to take it on a test drive. It’s best if you can drive it for between 15 and 30 minutes to get a good idea of how the car performs under various circumstances. Some important tests to perform include braking sharply, accelerating to above 60 mph, and observing how the vehicle handles when going around curves and corners. In addition to seeing how the car drives, you’ll also want to test the air conditioning, heating, and stereo to make sure all accessories are in good working order. If you find out something isn’t working, you still can decide to proceed with the purchase. However, you could try negotiating a lower price depending on the seriousness of the problem.
Ask to See the Title
Don’t just take the seller at their word when they say they own the car. It’s possible that they may have taken out a car loan to pay for the vehicle, so it’s crucial for you to make sure that the person selling you the vehicle has the full title to it. Asking to see the title is also a good way to avoid being caught up in any scams.
Ask a Mechanic to Examine the Car
If you’re purchasing a vehicle from an individual seller, it’s well worth having a professional mechanic examine it before you hand over the cash. Even if you’ve inspected the car and given it a test drive, there may be less obvious problems that only become obvious to a professionally-trained auto technician. The cost of such an inspection can prove worthwhile when you consider that it can help you avoid repair costs further down the line.
Request a Copy of the Vehicle’s Records
Auto dealerships often provide a vehicle history report with the used cars they sell. This documentation is important because it shows you how often the vehicle was maintained and if major repairs were carried out. A private seller should also have this documentation if they have looked after their car. If they can’t present it to you, there’s a good chance that they haven’t maintained their vehicle particularly well, which should cause you to think twice before buying it.
Another way to learn about a vehicle’s history is to enter its license plate number and vehicle identification number (VIN) into an online database like CARFAX. These service providers retain information on whether a vehicle has been involved in an accident or any other incident that may compromise its value or performance.
We hope that our guide to buying a used car has helped you in your search for your next vehicle. If you’re still looking, why not browse through our selection of certified pre-owned and used vehicles? Our team of auto experts is ready to assist you with any questions you may have about any of our used vehicles, or help you get the buying process started. Contact us today to learn more.
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