Buying a second hand car at a bargain may prove to be difficult. Honestly, it really is. That’s why we’re here to help you, in seven steps, on how to find the perfect car for you.
When buying a second-hand car, you’ve got a lot of things to worry about. There are still dealers out there that sell lemons. And, to be extra careful with those, you will have to go through a quick checklist. This checklist will help ensure that you’re getting the best deal while still getting a car that’s in mint condition. So, what should you look out for? Here are seven steps to finding the perfect car for you. The most important part of buying a car that many people leave out is parking. So, before even going through these steps, ensure you have a parking space where your car won’t get towed. Let’s begin with the checklist.
To be able to find a great car, you must know within what range you’re capable of paying. Therefore, it’s important to really have a budget set so that you can find cars within that range. If you don’t like any of the cars within your range, you might consider increasing your budget slightly. A general rule of thumb, especially when taking out a car loan, is to ensure that it doesn’t take more than 20% of your take-home pay. For example, if you take home at least $2,000 a month, you should only pay around $400. But, if you’re sticking to a tight budget, you will have to rethink buying a car, even a used one. Why? Because sometimes used cars may need new tires and require maintenance, among other things. Also, don’t forget to account for fuel, insurance as well as the initial ownership costs. Consider, especially if your car doesn’t have a warranty. It may be a good idea for you to have an emergency fund to cover repairs that may be unexpected. However, if you’re careful, you’ll see some red lights for not buying a car.
#2 Make a List of Cars
If you want to save money, you may have to consider more than just one brand you like. It’s suggested that you make a list of at least three cars that’ll meet your needs and fall within your budget. You can compare cars online. If you have time, you can go to your local BHPH lots. While there, you can check the cars that fit within your budget. Once you know the make and model of the car, you can go home and compare the pros and cons of the cars. Plus, if you’re considering buying a less than five-year-old car, find one that’s certified pre-owned or CPO. These vehicles usually have long-term warranties through the carmakers and not just the dealerships.
#3 Check Prices
Once you’ve got a list of cars ready to go, you’ll also know the prices of each car on your list from different dealers. If you aren’t too busy, you could also jot down each dealer’s plan. This will ensure you get the best car for the best amount of money. Besides noting the prices, maybe you could note the maintenance the car needs once you get it. This can help you even out your options on the possible expenses and the best car that’ll fit within your budget. Don’t forget to ask dealers if they have added administrator/broker fees, auto inspection fees, and other fees besides the price of the car. This will really help you gauge whether the actual price is within your budget.
#4 Vehicle History Report
This is probably one of the good things the DMV can provide you online. You don’t have to line up for this, so just visit their official site. We’ve provided the link for you so that you can visit it. It tells you the history of a used car. This is a very important and essential step to take. Because if you’re looking into a car with a bad history report, at least you won’t run into trouble if you don’t get it. But, if you’re buying from a close friend or family, you can just simply ask them to vouch for the vehicle’s history. With the vehicle history report, you’re looking for warning signs. You’ll need to look at if the odometer has been rolled back. Maybe it has a salvage title. This means that the insurance company declared a total loss, meaning it’s a lemon. You’ll need either the car’s vehicle identification number or VIN to get this information. Sometimes though, you can just grab the license plate number, and you can already check its history report.
#5 Contact Seller
Getting more information about it is essential once you’ve found a car you like. A used car questionnaire may come in handy for this part. Yes, there’s such a thing. It’ll have information on the make and model of the car and what year the car was made. Plus, everything you need, really. By doing this, you’re eliminating the possibility of getting a lemon and instead getting one that’s in mint and running condition. Don’t be fooled by what people say on the phone; set a date and do a test drive.
#6 Test Drive Car/Inspect the Car
When the appointment is dealt with for test driving the car, inspect it while you’re at it. Check for any leaks or any weird sounds the car makes while driving. If the owner/seller of the car does not agree to a test drive, then it may be best to move on with the next prospective car on your list. Unless the car is far away, you may have to negotiate a meetup point. Make sure to pop the hood and check what’s in there. If you’re in doubt, bring a mechanic who knows what he’s doing. He’ll be able to tell you the subtle differences you may not know. Plus, he’ll be there to inspect the car if you don’t know how.
This is the final part: finding the right car that fits your budget and needs. So, the next step is to negotiate the price if you can. If talking about numbers makes you uncomfortable, it honestly shouldn’t. You’re paying for it, and you should also have a reasonable plan on how you’ll pay for it. So, it’s important to know how much you’re willing to spend ahead of time. But don’t start your conversation with the dealer/seller with this. You should open with a lower number than your maximum price. Maybe an average of the price of the car when you did your research. If it’s higher than your budget, maybe you should rethink if you can really afford the car. If it isn’t, you can say that you did your research and the car should only cost this much. But make sure that you’ve got facts that support your offer. You and the seller/dealership could arrive at a good price that works with your budget. And this is great!
Once all the negotiating is good and the price you’re discussing is good with you and the seller/dealership, discuss payment terms. Afterward, you’ve got to get all the paperwork done. This only depends if you’re buying from a private seller or a dealership. If you’re buying a car from a private seller, you must go through the paperwork steps. So, think about insurance and finance offices that’ll help you out. Furthermore, don’t forget to transfer ownership to your name and any extended warranties, etc if you’re buying from a dealership, whether traditional or BHPH, they should more or less get the paperwork done for you. Once you’re done with all of these things and you’ve gotten your car, it may be time for a celebratory drive around your neighborhood to look for parking! We’re kidding! Go on a quick road trip with your friends to celebrate; just don’t forget to ask them to chip in for gas.