You might not have the credit required to get auto loan financing, and managing monthly payments might put your other debt repayment plans at risk. However, being in debt is no reason to drive a car that’s breaking down or unsafe. There are plenty of good, affordable used cars out there, and late model used cars have a lot to offer in terms of reliability, gas mileage, safety features, and performance. If you’re in the market for a pre-owned vehicle, here are a few tips you can keep in mind to make your shopping experience fruitful and stress-free.
- Set a budget
The first thing to do is figure out exactly how much money you’ll be able to put towards this purchase. Be realistic, but bear in mind that the more you can invest in a new (used) car, the more reliable it is likely to be and the less you’ll have to pay for maintenance and repairs in the near future.
- Choose your car
Next, pick a make and model that fits in your budget and has the features and options you need. If this is going to be a family vehicle, make sure it has room for all the passengers you’ll be carrying, and if you have a baby or toddler, verify that it will have the space and hardware to allow you to safely install a car seat.
- Find sellers
There are lots of online car buying directories that can help you located used vehicles from reputable sellers. They can also provide you with reviews, videos, comparison tools, and other site features that can help you in your purchasing process.
- Check the vehicle history
Once you’ve found a specific car you’re interested in, get a vehicle history report. You’ll want to know if it was in any major accidents or has had any significant repairs done on it. The internet has made it easier than ever to get a comprehensive history report on any car, so don’t skip over this important step, and don’t let a seller talk you out of requesting it.
- Take it for a test drive
Just because you’re not at a dealership doesn’t mean you can’t take the car for a test drive. Make sure it handles properly, feels right, doesn’t make any strange or ominous sounds, and that you feel comfortable and safe driving it.
- Negotiate the price
Don’t be afraid to give the seller a counter offer and try to bring the price down from what they’re asking for it. This is expected. Also, don’t be afraid to walk away from a deal and keep trying if you don’t feel like you’re being offered a good value for your money. There are always other cars.
Once you’re satisfied with the deal, make sure the title paperwork is processed correctly and enjoy driving off in a pre-owned vehicle that’s now all yours!