Used Cars – 7 Ways To Get The Best Deal

By on December 5, 2012

Are you in the market for a car but not sure whether you want to bust your bank account on something brand new that will depreciate the moment you drive it off the lot? A used car may be the solution for you. Initially, the idea of searching for a used car may seem intimidating. While it is true that buying a used car presents some pitfalls, most of these can be avoided by employing a few basic techniques to drastically reduce your chances of ending up with a lemon.

1. Decide Where to Buy
Perhaps you would only consider buying from a dealership. Or maybe buying from local online listings is more your style. Whichever you choose, proceed with caution. Keep in mind that you have to shop for a dealer in addition to a car. Do an online search for the dealership you’re thinking of contacting. You may be able to find reviews that show that customers are either satisfied with their purchases or feel that they have been ripped off.

2. Decide When to Buy
Ellen Warren of the Chicago Tribune advises consumers to buy at the end of the month. Many dealerships assign monthly quotas to their salespersons, and depending on whether those quotas have been met or not, a salesperson may be a little more willing to give you a good deal at the end of the month.

3. Do Your Homework
Do you want to buy a specific type of car? Research the make and model at Kelley Blue Book’s website or other online listings to be sure the car is reasonably priced. Run the car’s VIN through AutoCheck to get information on the vehicle’s history to see if it’s been in an accident and whether or not the mileage is accurately reported.

4. Visual Inspection
Whether you have expertise in cars or not, there are a few basic red flags of which you should be aware. Take a peek at the condition of the upholstery in the interior. Check the car for tire wear, scratches and dents. Glance at the engine to check for battery corrosion, cracked plastic caps or reservoirs, or any other signs of damage that could have been a result of an unreported fender-bender. Take your region into account when performing the visual inspection; if you live near the coast or in an area that gets heavy snow in the wintertime, checking for rust both on and under the car is crucial.

5. Take It for a Spin!
Always test drive a potential purchase. Check the brake lights and turn signals. How does the car feel when you shift gears, brake suddenly or turn corners? Pay special attention also to any unexplained smells, such as exhaust, or mysterious noises in the engine.

6. Get a Professional Inspection
If you don’t feel quite up to the task of evaluating a car’s condition on your own, consider having it professionally inspected. Such inspections usually cost somewhere between $100-200, but the peace of mind is well worth the price.

7. Don’t Be in a Hurry!
It’s easy to feel pressured, whether by circumstances or salespersons, into making a hasty decision. Don’t allow yourself to be rushed. Ask questions, do your homework, and do not purchase on the spot if you don’t feel comfortable. And – if necessary – be prepared to walk away.

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Meg Jones assists those looking for Greenville used cars and enjoys writing about how to go about doing things better than you may have done before.  It’s all about learning and growth.

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