5 Easy Steps: Buying a Used Car the Smart Way

Posted by Rebecca Prince on June 16, 2017

Buying A Used Car

Whether this is your first car purchase, or you’re getting another car for the family, buying a used vehicle makes a lot of sense.  While the prices are usually lower than new vehicles, buying a used vehicle can be tricky if you’re not prepared.  There are 10 important steps to consider when purchasing a used car.  In this article, we will review the first five steps in detail.  Let’s take a look:

Step #1:  Try to Purchase When You Don’t Have To Do So

Smart shoppers try to anticipate the need for a car and begin looking prior to anything happening to their current vehicle.  Desperation can be seen by a seller, and you don’t want to ever feel like the seller has the “upper hand’ in your sales negotiations.

Step #2:  Know What You Can Afford

Prior to buying any vehicle, you should get pre-approved for your auto loan.  A pre-approved auto loan will allow you to know exactly what you can afford to purchase and will keep you away from any type of “higher-rate” auto loans from a dealership.  You will have the confidence you need going into any negotiations because you know how much you can spend.

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Step #3:  Know What You Want to Buy

It is extremely important that you DO YOUR HOMEWORK and know exactly what type of vehicle you want to purchase, including any “extras.”  You should also determine how much mileage on the vehicle is acceptable for your needs.  Then, take all of this information and compare it with the amount you can afford.  You need to be as specific as you can, so you can eliminate whatever you cannot afford from the mix.

When you’re researching what you want on your next vehicle, you should also check out the different options available for extended warranties.  In a private sale, you may or may not be able to add this option to your vehicle; it just depends on what is currently on the vehicle, and if it can be transferred to your name upon purchase.

Step #4:  Search in Many Places for Your Vehicle

You should take your time to search car advertisements from as many different sources as possible to find out what is available in your area, such as newspaper ads, online brokers, or online classified ads.  Websites such as Kelley Blue Book or Edmunds are good, unbiased resources to learn more about a particular vehicle.  Additionally, you may want to shop at car dealerships that sell pre-owned vehicles. 

Step #5:  Test Drive the Vehicle

No matter what type of purchase you are making – private, through a broker, or a dealer – you must insist on test driving the vehicle.  When you test drive the vehicle, you should be focused on how the vehicle “feels.”  You should make sure you do the following during your test drive:

  • Take the car on the freeway, Interstate, or highway.  Accelerate to at least 60 mph to see how “punchy” it is.
  • Brake sharply to see if the car pulls or squeaks in any way.
  • You should turn everything on in the car to make sure it all works – open the sun roof, open all the windows, open the trunk, use the cup holders, etc.  Turn on the lights and make sure the brake lights work.  Test the turn signals, hazard lights, wipers, radio, air conditioning, heater, and the horn.
  • Check the tires to make sure there is good tread on them.  If you are not familiar with tires, be sure to bring someone who is.

Ask the seller any questions you may have about the vehicle; no question is a dumb question, especially when you are paying a lot of money for a vehicle.

How DuGood Can Help

Buying a vehicle can seem pretty complicated.  We want you to FEEL GOOD about the journey!  Be on the lookout for part two of today’s blog coming soon.  And, check out these other ways we can help:

  • Explore our Auto Tool Kit. You can shop from home, compare different models, read ratings, get free Carfax, and more.
  • Download our complimentary Auto Buying Guide. It will help steer you through the car buying process step by step – almost like GPS!
  • Have more questions?  Request a call back from one of our Lending Experts.  They’re standing by now, ready to provide the answers you need.

Topics: Auto