Used Car Shopping: 4 Tips You Need to Know

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As you may likely know, buying a new car can be quite costly. According to multiple sources, including Edmunds, a new car will also depreciate quickly. They say it will even lose around 11% of its value as soon as you drive it off the lot.

Many seek to avoid this loss by purchasing pre-owned vehicles instead of brand new ones. It’s a smart move, too. Buying a vehicle that’s a few years old will limit losses from depreciation. Once you’ve decided to purchase a used car, there are several tips you should know to get the best deal.

1. Be prepared to negotiate.

Many sellers advertise heavily inflated prices simply so they can negotiate with buyers. Be ready to do some haggling based on what you know is the true value of the vehicle. You’ll certainly want to have done your homework before beginning discussions.

Be sure to check local listings for similar cars so you’ll have points for comparison. Ads for other cars can be good tools for negotiating, so can high mileage and any other apparent flaws.

2. Research thoroughly.

First, talk to the seller and find out everything they can tell you about the vehicle in which you’re interested. Find out the mileage, options, and any other details they can add.

Also, make sure you’re aware of the average going price as well. We suggest checking Kelley Blue Book and NADA Guides to find the market value with consideration for condition and mileage.

Obtaining a vehicle history report is also advised. All you need is the VIN to get a report from sites such as CARFAX and AutoCheck. Sometimes sellers will be willing to give you the report for free. Be sure to ask if they’ve already run a vehicle history report you can have a copy of.

This report will reveal many important details. These include things like if the car may have flood damage or if it’s ever been in an accident.

3. Take a test drive.

You should always drive before you buy. Listen for any odd noises like rattling or grinding. Be sure to check under the hood as well.

4. Pay attention to paperwork.

If buying from a dealer, be sure they provide you with a Buyer’s Guide. This is also commonly referred to as the vehicle’s “window sticker.” There are laws requiring used cars sold by dealers to have these.

Always trust what the paper says, not the salesperson, especially if the two conflict each other. Also, the term “certified” should be taken with a grain of salt.

A vehicle history report is often worth more than a “certified” label. As for warranties, a 90-day warranty is not worth an increase in price. Nor is one that only covers the power train.