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5 Steps to Buying Used Cars

by recycler on September 21, 2013

5 Steps to Buying Used Cars

Is this the used car you’re looking for?

If you have been looking at used cars for sale, you know that there are tons…TONS…of options out there. There are used cars for sale on car lots, in people’s front lawns, on car sites or in classified ads like you’ll find here on recycler.com. Options…and lots of them.

So if you are trying to pick just one with so many options, how do you dwindle down the choices until you can narrow it down to that one vehicle that is right for you? It can be a tough and sometimes frustrating process.

However, a little hard work, some research and a bit of perseverance can help you target the perfect one out of all the used cars for sale…and hopefully, still have some money left over to celebrate your new ride!

Step One: Think

Oh that makes sense, right? Yet, we make snap decisions all the time when we are shopping. So this time, actually stop and think about your needs and your wants (and definitely weigh the former more heavily).

What you need is a solid idea of the type of used car that you want and will fit your lifestyle. If you rush into a buying a used car, you might end up with an impractical sports car, a gas guzzler, or even worse, a lemon!

Think before you buy! But first…research!

Step Two: Research

You might have your idea of the type of car you need. It’s right there in the front of your brain as the perfect ride for you, but is it really? It’s time to read up and find out for sure. Before making any purchases, do your research. You need to know exactly what you are getting into.

5 Steps to Buying Used Cars

Do you really need a low-MPG, ultra-luxury vehicle?

Find out if the vehicle typically has a longer running life. If you do have to repair the car, is it an expensive model to do routine work on or can you possibly do the work on your own? What kind of gas mileage does it get?

Make sure you made the right choice and that the car you want is in an appropriate price range. If you happen to learn deep into the research that the car might not be right, go back to Step One…rather than having wasted a ton of money, you’ve only spent some of your time.

If everything is good and you know you’ve made the right decision, it’s time to search.

Step Three: Play the Field

Think of this like being single before high school prom. You are looking to ask a beautiful girl or handsome boy. Ask the first thing that almost-kinda-sorta fits the bill? Hell no. You want to wait and try to find the most attractive and most durable date that won’t cost too much and won’t break down on you after a year or two…are we still talking about prom dates?

Whether you are buying from a dealer or private seller, you’re going to want to make sure to get the best deal and, more importantly, the best quality car you can afford.

Even if the price is right and the car looks great, you want to test the car out before buying it!

Step Four: Take it for a Spin

The used car you are eying looks great. It appears to be in great condition. It has smooth lines and beautiful curves. It even smells great!

But does it drive? And does it drive well?

DO NOT make the mistake of not driving a used car before purchasing it. The test drive is everything. And don’t be afraid to ask a lot of questions. In fact, it’s nearly imperative that you ask a lot of questions. Let the seller do the talking and who knows what he/she might reveal while you’re on the open road.

5 Steps to Buying Used Cars

Make sure it’s still running like it used to.

Take note of any things you think might just be small blips. Is there any kind of vibration? How does it handle small bumps? Is the car pulling to a particular side? How does it feel when you try to accelerate? How does it handle inclines?

You should also try to schedule the car for an inspection with a mechanic you trust. All those small notes you collected on the test drive should be passed on. The mechanic can then inform you of any issues or potential future troubles. This will help save you from wasting a bunch of money in the future on used car parts.

If you like how it rides, and your mechanic approves it, it’s time to negotiate.

Step Five: Making An Offer

Here’s your chance to show your bargaining skills. Don’t go “The Price is Right” and offer $1, but shoot a little low and have a firm top-end number. Don’t waver on your top end. Remember there are thousands of used cars for sale out there. If the seller can’t meet your high-end number, then stick firmly to your guns and walk away.

More than likely, you will be able to slowly go back-and-forth with offers and counteroffers and then come to a common ground somewhere in the middle. But again, stick to your budget so you aren’t regretting your used car purchase as soon as you get your first bank statement.

But after you’ve agreed to a deal and the paperwork has been signed, sealed and delivered, grab those keys and drive into the sunset!

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