buying a car

101 How to Buy a Used Car

Keep your end goal in mind: Buying a used car should be fun. Stay focused a little effort now, means peace of mind down the road.

Pre Buying Checklist

A little preparation goes a long way:

Before you head to the dealership to buy a used car, do some homework:

  1. Let’s talk prices: You need to set a budget. A car is a big investment, put some time and thought into how much you can spend. Consider car maintenance, insurance costs, reliability, and pick the right car for your needs and your budget. Narrow down the types of vehicles that will work for you. Look into getting a personal loan to pay for the car or drawing funds from your savings account. Set limits, and stick to them!
  2. Check the classifieds: With so many online resources to purchase used cars, you should invest a few hours looking at online listings and walking car lots. Once you know what’s out there, you’ll have a better idea of the cars that would work best for you.
  3. Get a Pre-Purchase Inspection: Checking the vehicle history is a good idea, but it lacks information about safety recalls and known problems and issues with certain cars. Accident reports are beneficial, but an in-depth inspection, preferably on a lift at a shop, is the only real way to determine if a used car is a good buy.
  4. Be Flexible. Determine features and functions that are most important to you. Cars have a literally hundreds of options. Choose a few options that are “must haves” for you, and be flexible on the rest.
  5. Determine how far you are willing to travel. The online marketplace provides instant access to thousands of great used vehicles. But not everyone has the time to travel 500 miles to buy a used car. Decide how far and how much time you have to invest in buying a used car.


Buying from a Dealer

Buying a used car from a dealership is a great plan. Dealerships offer a lot of inventory in one place and offer a wide variety of vehicles to choose from, plus they can help you secure auto loans. Experts agree that buyers need to stay in their price range and budget. Don’t let a savvy salesperson talk you out of what you know: how much you can spend. Stay firm in your buying price. You can discuss the retail price with the salesperson, consult Kelley Blue Book, and decide if the car is a good value and within your budget. Test drive any car you are interested in purchasing. When you find a car that feels right and is priced right, get a pre-purchase inspection at an auto repair shop.

The dealership has checked their cars out and they do offer warranties, but even an extended warranty is limited especially in the used car market. So again, do your homework! Buying a certified pre-owned car may sound like a good idea, but you still need an mechanic to check the car out on your behalf. Dealerships will authorize pre-purchase inspections. Use a service that provides on demand pre-purchase inspections. There are mobile apps that provide instant inspections with digital reports. Dealerships won’t allow you to take cars for inspections over the course of days. Services offering on demand inspections at ASE certified repair shops provide the most convenience and flexibility for the seller and the buyer.

Use the results of your pre-purchase inspection to negotiate and save money. If the car has aging hoses that will need to be replaced, use that cost to negotiate the price of the car. Repairs can add up quickly. A pre-purchase inspection on a lift at a repair shop is the only real way to determine if a used car is a good buy. The old adage “kicking the tires” won’t help you down the road. A comprehensive inspection is your best “go to” when buying a used car.

On demand pre-purchase inspections offer convenient, comprehensive, and cost effective analysis of the used car you are buying. As a buyer ask for an inspection. If the seller is resistant, consider it a red flag and move on in your search. Remember, vehicle history reports only tell part of the car’s condition.

Here are more resources on negotiating with a dealership:…/how-to-negotiate-for-a-used-car-like-a-boss-168v4


Buying from a Private Party

Buying a used car from a private party is a great way to get a great deal on a used car. Private parties don’t have the overhead that a dealership has. You can search online sites and view pictures from the comfort of your own home. Once you find a car that fits your needs and budget, contact the seller. Plan to meet in a safe, public area. Give the car a thorough check and have an inspection process in mind. Take your time. Ask for maintenance records, inspection reports, and inspection forms. Verify how long the seller has owned the car – ask all of your questions. Take a test drive. If you’re still interested, insist on a pre-purchase inspection. Again, if the seller is resistant, consider it a red flag and move on in your search.

Use a pre-purchase service that schedules inspections immediately. The seller won’t wait for days for your mechanic to be ready to inspect the vehicle. The seller wants to sell this car now not in a week. Everyone is busy, no one has time to wait, and if this car is a good deal, other buyers will be interested. Save time and use a mobile app to schedule an inspection. You can order pre-purchase inspections from your mobile device and receive mobile forms and digital inspection results in your inbox. Don’t, however, skip getting a pre-purchase inspection because you don’t want to lose your dream car. There are services offering digital inspections on demand, use one of these and again, use the results to negotiate a fair price. If the car needs new tires, deduct the cost of new tires from the selling price.

Here is some additional information and tips on buying a used car from a private party:


Buying from a Buy Here Pay Here Lot

Buy Here Pay Here lots are another good option for purchasing a used car. These lots offer high risk loans for people with bad credit or no credit and offer certified pre-owned cars. Buy Here Pay Here lots offer a return policy on cars, usually around 48 hours after purchase be sure to clarify the limitations on the return policy, which is a benefit as well. You can drive away with the car and have the right to return the car if you aren’t completely satisfied with your purchase. Even with the “certified pre-owned” designation, don’t be tempted to skip a pre-purchase inspection. Consider using a service that provides on-demand inspections. The more quickly you have the car inspected, the more likely you are be able to purchase the car. Solid used cars move quickly, you won’t have time to wait for a pre-purchase inspection. You can order pre-purchase inspections from your mobile device and receive mobile forms and digital inspection results in your inbox. Remember to use the results of the pre-purchase inspection as a tool to help you negotiate a fair price for the car.

Here is some additional information about Buy Here Pay Here lots:


Pro Tip:

Always get a Pre-Purchase Inspection to make sure the car you are buying is in the condition the seller says it is. A vehicle inspection app makes scheduling an inspection easy. Use the Pre-Purchase Inspection results to Negotiate like a Pro.

Why a Pre-Purchase Inspection?

Get real condition and repair estimates before you buy, so you know what you’re buying.

On-demand car care services and vehicle inspection apps will give you instant access to ASE certified technicians and auto repair shops. Sellers don’t want to wait to sell their car, look for services that offer instant pre-purchase inspections to save time with no waiting and no scheduling. The sooner you have the inspection process completed, the sooner you can negotiate a fair price with no surprises.

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