Some people balk at the idea of meeting a stranger to buy a car that’s been driven by someone before. It can seem intimidating, especially if you haven’t had the opportunity to see the car in person, only online. Searching for “pre owned cars near me” doesn’t always give you the vote of confidence you need.
With these tips and tricks, buying a used car can be a surprisingly safe, enjoyable experience. Use the following pieces of tested advice to feel more secure about buying a previously owned vehicle.
Come Prepared With Lots of Questions
Not only does proper research before meeting with the car seller help you know more about the vehicle, but it also arms you with plenty of questions to ask. The more you know about the car you want and need, the more you’ll have to talk about it with the seller.
Don’t be afraid to inquire about anything and everything in regards to the car. Come prepared with a list of questions, both common and uncommon.
Some great questions to get the ball rolling include:
- Where did you originally get it from?
- How would you describe the condition of the car, both in the exterior and interior?
- What can you tell me about the car’s regular maintenance?
- Do you have any history reports or other information I can view?
- Has the vehicle ever been involved in an accident?
- Does the vehicle have any current problems that need to be fixed?
Figure Out Your Financing Options Ahead of Time
If you don’t know how you’re going to afford purchasing a used car, don’t bother meeting with a seller just yet to talk about vehicles. Whether you’re looking for used Toyota cars for sale in Albuquerque or brand new Chevy trucks in Texas, you need to do your research to determine how you will afford the vehicle. All of your discussion is inconsequential if you haven’t come up with a strategy to apply for a loan or set up some sort of financing option.
Here are some available methods for financing a used vehicle:
- Get a direct loan from a bank or credit union. Your first option is to apply at several banks and credit unions to see what kind of auto loans and interest rates you can get. Don’t accept the first offer you get – compare multiple offers to ensure you’re getting the best deal on the market.
- Look at online lenders. Don’t forget to evaluate newer online options – such as Ally Bank auto loans. You might not be able to walk into a real bank and discuss your situation, but you can often snag great interest rates safely.
- Finance through a used-car dealership. Some dealerships that sell previously owned cars offer “in-house” loans to borrowers. This is often a good option for people with no credit or a poor score.
To feel even more secure in your ability to buy a used vehicle, consider purchasing one that you can pay for upfront with cash or check. That’s the smartest financial move if you don’t want to deal with long-term payments or high-interest rates.
Run a History Report on the Vehicle
Knowing what a vehicle has been through in the past can tell you a great deal about how safe it is to buy. Fortunately, you can check the history of any vehicle for free. All you need is the Vehicle Identification Number, or “VIN.”
Most reputable used car sellers are more than happy to provide shoppers with the VIN number so that they can use services like AutoCheck or CARFAX to run a free vehicle history report. They want their shoppers to feel comfortable and safe purchasing from them, and that can only happen if they have solid proof that the vehicle is in good shape and has been treated well.
If you’re shopping for used cars in Albuquerque and the seller is hesitant or unwilling to provide the VIN number, move along to another seller who isn’t.
Some red flags to look for on any vehicle history report include:
- A long list of owners
- Out of state history
- Multiple car accidents
- Missing registration or tax renewal information
- Failed inspections
- History as a rental vehicle
- Words such as “salvage” or “rebuilt”
- Water damage
Have the Car Inspected
Before you commit to any used car, even those from the best car brands, you want to know that it’s still in good shape and that it won’t require substantial maintenance or repairs down the road. The best way to do that? Have a professional mechanic take a look at the vehicle.
When buying from a used-car dealership, they will often let you take the vehicle off the lot temporarily to have it inspected. If not, you can discuss other options for third-party inspection with the seller.
A thorough inspection might set you back a couple of hundred dollars, but this cost is minuscule compared to potential repairs in the future.
Roughly 40 million used vehicles are sold in America every year. Even if you’ve never browsed reliable cars in your area, such as Honda used cars, you can learn to tackle the process safely and confidently.
Whenever you begin your used car shopping, make sure that you’ve done your homework first. Research questions to ask, financing options, vehicle history, and every bit of information that could be useful when looking at cars for sale.
Then, when it comes time to pull the trigger, you’ll feel much more secure buying a vehicle that was owned by someone else.