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7 Tips on Buying Used Cars

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Many people simply can't afford to buy a new car. But if it is really necessary that you own a car, a practical option is to buy a used car, which is cheaper. Personally, I prefer to buy a new car because you won't need to think about repairs for a while, unlike with used cars which may break down sooner or later.

Anyways, since you want to get a car for less, you can choose to buy a used car. Let me share with you a few tips that would help you buy a secondhand car that's worth your money.


Tip #1 Know where to buy used cars. 

You can look for a secondhand car in many different places. Check out newspaper classified ads and online sites like Cars.com to start finding used cars for sale. Another option is to visit car lots that sell pre-owned cars. Many people recommend buying a unit in car lots because of the certainty that the used cars here are well-maintained and come with complete service records. However, prices in car lots will be higher than if you buy from private sellers.

Tip #2 Know what type of car you would like to buy.

Have a specific brand and model in mind. Consider your needs and purpose for buying a vehicle. Do you need it for personal or business use? Will it fit your family of seven? Do you have little kids and need to know which three car seat cars are available? How about maintenance costs? Do you prefer diesel or gas powered?

Just as with buying a new car, it would be good to know the pros and cons of buying specific vehicles. Read consumer reviews to help you choose a good car.

Tip #3 Approximate the value of the car.

Now that you have a specific car in mind, go and search for information about the approximate value of the used car you'd like to buy. Online sites like Kelly Blue Book can provide the fair market value of a car by inputting information such as the brand, year, mileage, extra accessories like A/C, CD player, etc. This site will tell you how much to pay for a used car.

Tip #4 Don't hesitate to ask the seller questions about the car.

Call up the seller of the used car and ask relevant questions to know if it's worth buying. Aside from asking information about the owner's name, make of car, year, color, mileage, condition, asking price, etc, you might also like to ask the following questions.

1. What are the owner's reasons for selling the car? Is it because it already has many problems and the owner doesn't want to fix them anymore?
2. What is the mileage reading on the vehicle? Too much mileage can really reduce the market price of the car. The standard is 12,000 miles per year.
3. Does the owner have maintenance records including tune ups and oil changes? This will help you validate if the car is properly maintained.

Tip #5 Check the car's condition.

How do you assess whether the car is still in good condition? When you visit the seller to see the car, ask to test drive it. This will give you a feel of the car's condition while on the road. Don't buy the car if the seller doesn't let you drive it first.

In the U.S., it's possible to get the vehicle identification number (VIN). You can use this information to get a complete history of the car including details about the previous owners and whether it has been wrecked or not.

If you're not car savvy, it is a good idea to ask a mechanic first to give the car a good look. If the seller is not hiding anything, he will not object to the car's inspection by a mechanic. The mechanic can tell if the car has obvious problems and can make recommendations whether to buy it or not.

Tip #6 Negotiate the price of the car.

If you already know the car's approximate value from doing your research and you have a fair estimate of the car's condition, you can start negotiating the price of the car. You can tell the seller if the car is worth buying at his asking price. Then, ask for the price you wish to pay for the car. If both of you agree on the new price, well and good. If not, do not be pressured to buy it. There are other cars out there.

Tip #7 Buy only a car you can afford.

Do not buy a used car if it is priced way above your budget. If buying from a used car dealer, it's not a good idea to grab any offer of on-the-spot financing. These are typically at a high interest rate with higher payments. It is better if you already applied for a car loan at a bank and get pre-approved before negotiating with a car seller.

I did not include in the list the legalities you need to consider when buying a used car. Be sure to check this out too.

Are you planning to buy a car or vehicle? Do you prefer buying a brand new car or a used car?  I hope the above tips can help you in your purchase of a used car.

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