Buyers Guide

Step-By-Step Used Car Buyer’s Guide


Shopping for a used car is exciting. You can find some amazing deals if you go about your search in the right way. Check out our step-by-step guide to find your next used car.


This is the most important first step. If you’re financing the car, get preapproved for a loan. Save for a large down payment and ensure that you don’t spend over 20% of your monthly income on car payments, maintenance, and insurance.


Make a list of must-have features and search for models accordingly. Narrow your field as you search until you have a target list of three cars.


Check consumer reports for total costs of ownership and car reliability levels to ensure your choices are sound.


Search online for your target cars. Explore used car lot inventories. Find out where these cars are and conduct all research before you go see them in person.


Once you find target cars close to your location, check the price of the cars you’re interested in. Keep this information for negotiations.


Now, get the car’s VINs and order their detailed vehicle history reports. Study it to know whether you should be considering these cars or not. It’s easy to restart your search if these cars have salvage titles or haven’t been maintained well.


Next, call the seller and verify all the information over the phone. Ask any other questions that you may want the answers to as well. Don’t speak about the price.


Schedule back-to-back test drives of all three target cars. Check every single aspect and try to replicate the conditions in which you would be using the vehicle. Notice the condition, comfort levels, brakes, handling, noises, and smells.


If you like the car, hire a certified mechanic to inspect the car and provide a written report of that inspection. Pay them if you need to because this small expense could save a lot of heartburn later.


Use all the information you’ve collected to negotiate a fair price for the car.


Add the car to your insurance policy and complete all necessary paperwork before driving away.

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