We’ve put together a list of the Top 10 tips when buying a used car. Not only will these simple tips help your avoid buying a lemon, they will also help you save money to invest on fixing up your ride.
1) Do your vehicle research
What do you know about the car/model? Find out as much as you can about the vehicle. How much will you have to pay on insurance? Fuel economy? Were any manufacturer recalls or problems known to exist with this particular make/model vehicle that should be carefully examined beforehand?
2) Check the used market price
The best way of making sure that you are not overpaying for the car is to use automotive websites like KBB.com (Kelley Blue Book) to get a good idea of what it’s currently worth. Finding out the true value of the car can also act as a basis for further negotiation, especially if you are leveraging problems with the car or flaws to the vehicle as a means for additional discounts from the original price.
3) Check the seller/dealer
Once you’ve found a potential car, there are a few simple things you can do to help check that you are dealing with a legitimate seller. Purchasing a car from a reputable dealer is a little more expensive, but you do benefit from a certain amount of extra legal protection should there be a problem with your purchase. When calling a private seller, ask about “the car”. If they give you the runaround or are clueless to the condition of the car, move on.
4) Vehicle inspection
Inspect the vehicle thoroughly—in the daytime if possible or under lighted conditions. If you’re not mechanically inclined or lack automotive skills, bring along someone who is more experienced with that particular make and model vehicle such as an independent inspection agent. These inspections can be expensive but if they find hidden problems, you may be able to use them to negotiate down the price.
5) Take it for a drive
Drive the car for no less than 5-10 miles to give the engine plenty of time to warm up and show its true identity. If possible, have the seller drive while you sit shotgun and listen for any noises or vibrations, which would automatically indicate a red flag on the car.
6) Check the odometer
If you’re serious about the car, purchase a vehicle’s report online to ensure the odometer mileage is consistent and hasn’t been altered. Make sure the mileage is consistent with the wear and tear on the vehicle’s interior and exterior.
Check that the registration number and chassis number match the vehicle (the chassis number will either be in the engine bay or door panel), have not been tampered with, and that the name and address match both each other and the person selling the vehicle.
8) Body inspection
Ask the current owner about any prior accidents or problems with the car. Red flag any car with excessive repair/bondo, repaint, or chassis rewelding, which would indicate the car has been in an accident.
9) Oil/engine condition
Is the engine oil clean? Does the engine look like it’s been tampered with? A car with fewer modifications will likely be the smarter choice when it comes to purchasing a used vehicle.
10) Don’t be an Ass
Be considerate when purchasing a car. No one wants to deal with an ass. Respect the current owner’s car and most importantly, don’t try to lowball to a point where he will be offended. If you need a loan, get it in place beforehand so you are ready to go. Offer the seller a guaranteed method of payment that both you and the seller are happy with. Being a good buyer who is able to move quickly is the best way of negotiating a good discount on the price of a car.