6 Tips for Choosing the Perfect Pre-Owned Vehicle
Purchasing a pre-owned vehicle instead of a new one is a great way to save money and avoid the hefty depreciation new cars go through as soon as they’re driven off the lot. You definitely don’t want to buy a lemon, though, especially since pre-owned cars often aren’t covered by a warranty anymore. Here are six tips that can help you select the right pre-owned vehicle.
1. Figure Out Your Needs in a Car
The first step whenever you’re going car shopping is considering how you’ll be using your new vehicle. If you have a family or plan to, you’d obviously want something with more space than if you only need to transport yourself and the occasional passenger.
Make a list of your must-haves in a vehicle, and then list the features it would be nice to have. This will help you narrow down your options, since there are plenty of cars for sale out there.
2. Decide How Much You Can Afford
You won’t enjoy driving your new car nearly as much if you’re barely able to afford it, which is why you should calculate how much you can afford to spend on a car.
First, decide if you’re going to pay for your car outright, or if you’ll be getting a vehicle loan. If you’re paying for it from your savings, that should give you a good idea of how much you can spend already. If you’ll be applying for a loan, the payment shouldn’t exceed 20 percent of your take-home pay each month.
3. Search Classified Ads and Dealer Listings
After you’ve determined your vehicle needs and your budget, you can start the search. Sites with vehicle listings are great for this because they have plenty of search filters you can use. While other resale sites do not have the same search options, they often have good deals.
Try not to get locked on to a specific make or model. There may be something very similar that costs much less simply because of who made it. Being open regarding the vehicle you buy can save you thousands.
4. Check Maintenance Records and Vehicle History Reports
Whenever you’re buying a pre-owned vehicle, you should look at the maintenance records and a vehicle history report. Those maintenance records can tell you how well the previous owners took care of the car. You can also look up common repairs that model of car will need, and then see if any have been done already, saving you some money in the future.
The vehicle history report will tell you if the car in question has been involved in any accidents or other incidences. While these don’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t buy the car, it’s important to know about them.
5. Go for a Test Drive
The test drive is your chance to see how the vehicle feels on the road and look for red flags. If the car has performance or suspension issues, the test drive is where you can spot them.
Now, just because a car does well during your test drive doesn’t mean it’s issue-free. There could still be underlying problems, which is where the final tip comes in.
6. Take the Car to a Trustworthy Mechanic
There’s no way for you to know a car’s mechanical condition inside and out just from driving it and checking its records. You need to have someone who knows cars inspect it and tell you what kind of shape it’s in.
Just about any mechanic will do a vehicle inspection for a reasonable fee. They’ll then give you a report on their inspection, which can help you determine if the car is worth what you’d be paying for it. You could also use any issues the mechanic found to haggle on the seller’s asking price.
Be patient as you look for your next vehicle, as it may take time before you find the one that checks all the boxes. Use the tips above during your search, and you’ll end up with a car you love.