What used car should I not buy? How many miles should I buy a used car with? Should I buy a used car from a dealer or from a private owner? There are many questions that may come up when you are making plans to buy a used vehicle but the process of buying a used car doesn’t have to be difficult.
Here are a few tips to make your purchase easier—and get the information you need for an educated
Know Your Budget
It may be tempting to go one year newer or a few thousand miles less, but these benefits often come tied to a higher price tag, especially at car dealerships. Ideally, you should budget for a car payment and related vehicle expenses that is 20% or less of your monthly income. We highly recommend including related expenses, like gas, oil changes, tire rotations, and other expenses to help reduce the impact the cost of these things can have on the rest of your monthly budget. You don’t want to scrape by because your car is past due for an oil change. Note: Older vehicles will likely require more maintenance—and potentially more expensive maintenance than newer used vehicles.
Research Vehicle Types
Once you know how much you can afford, use that monthly allotment to help you determine which vehicle type you can get and still stay within budget. If you have a large family, a larger vehicle like an SUV or minivan may be the type of vehicle on your list. If you travel long distances for work, then a vehicle with a higher gas-mileage may make more sense. You should budget first before making a list of the types of vehicles you like because your budget may limit the make, model, or year of vehicle that fits within your budget.
Verify the Value of Your Vehicle
Before you sign the contract or hand over the cash, be sure that the value of the vehicle you are purchasing is accurate. Use sites like Kelly Blue Book to ensure the asking price is appropriate for the year, condition, make, and model of the vehicle. Dealerships often charge a higher rate, but Kelly Blue Book will help you to ensure the price is not too inflated.
Check the Vehicle
In addition to having a vehicle history report conducted on the vehicle—checking for major accidents, flooding, or other alarming issues—you should also have the vehicle inspected by a mechanic of your choosing, especially if you are purchasing it from a non-dealer. If you are concerned about the history or “wellness” of the vehicle you are looking at, purchasing a certified, pre-owned vehicle from a dealer can help to reduce or eliminate some of these concerns.
Using these tips can help you to get the best deal on a used vehicle. Once you have the right vehicle for your needs and budget that also passes a safety and history check then your next big important step is to get proper car insurance in order to protect your new investment.