In the Market for a Used Vehicle? Consider These Tips Before Buying.

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Couple searching for a new car during coronavirus pandemic

Buying a new (to you!) car is sometimes a hassle, sometimes stressful, and sometimes overwhelming. We at Auto Glass Doc want to help make sure the process is as smooth as possible, so here are some tips to make the process of buying a used car a little easier on you.

How much can you afford? Set your budget now. The usual rule of thumb for a vehicle cost is about 20% of your take home pay. If you’re on a tight budget, you may choose to spend even less than that. Make sure you factor in maintenance and repairs, as used cars often need more maintenance than new cars. It’s always a good idea to get pre approved if you are getting a car loan as soon as you know what you’d like to spend. Shop around for the best rates. Plan to have at least 10% of the vehicle’s total price as a down payment.

Make a list of vehicles you want to shop for. What make and model do you like the most? Add a list of features that you want your new (to you!) vehicle to have. Are heated seats important to you? Do you need a backup camera? Make sure to consider all of these options when making your list for a used vehicle. Build a list of three car models to research.

Check prices on the type of vehicles you have narrowed it down to so you can match your budget to the average cost of the vehicle you want to purchase. Edmunds has some tips to use True Market Value (TMV) to check out prices on cars in your list. When you are pricing a used vehicle, take into consideration the make and model, features, mileage, and condition.  This is important down the road when you begin to negotiate the price.

Start looking for used cars in your local area using the specifications you have and your price limit. There are tons of different websites offering used cars for you to choose from, including AutoTrader, Craigslist, and CarMax. Check with multiple websites to find the best deals. 

Check the vehicle history report. Most major dealerships offer this report for free, but if you are not purchasing from a dealership, you want to strongly consider purchasing this information from somewhere like CarFax. All you need to obtain this information is the vehicle identification number (VIN.) A vehicle history report usually includes a summary and an evaluation of the vehicle. Other information can include the number of previous owners, verification of mileage, any accident information, and lemon law and recall checks. Some can also show details like when maintenance was performed and where. You can also check for any safety recalls at safercar.gov

Contact the seller to ask some questions, like inquiring why they are selling it, and if you wish, schedule an appointment to see the vehicle. Prepare to see the vehicle by printing out a few of these checklists so you can have records for each car you see, making your choice a little bit easier later when comparing vehicles.

Test drive it. There are a lot of things to consider when you test drive a used vehicle.

  • Do you have enough space (headroom, legroom, storage, etc) for your lifestyle? If you’re a family, you might want to consider a larger vehicle.
  • Is it comfortable? The average American driver spends 18 days driving per year. Comfort is important!
  • Can you reach everything you need access to? Check the mirrors and windows to see any blind spots you may have when driving the vehicle.
  • Check out the tires, how is the tread on them? Will you need to replace them soon?
  • Check the console – if there is a check engine or any other notification, be sure to note this and ask the seller about it.
  • Are the brakes squeaking or making any kind of noise?
  • Check the air conditioning and heating system. Is anything leaking after you drive it?
  • Pop the hood and give it a look. It will be quite obvious if something is wrong, so you don’t need to be a pro to do this.
  • Test the seatbelts, windshield wipers, blinkers, headlights and brake lights.

Have the car inspected. Go visit your favorite mechanic or look one up on Google and take the used vehicle in for an inspection. A third party opinion is always a good idea, and any record of anything wrong with the vehicle will be documented for the seller to address. Some dealerships may push back on this, but insist. Car surprises are not anyone’s idea of fun.

Negotiate the price. This is the part that most people hate, but it doesn’t have to be as bad as you think, especially when you’ve done your research. Make sure you have a set price in mind before you go. If you’ve been pre-approved, negotiate in terms of total cost. Many dealerships will try to get the buyer to focus on things like the monthly payment. Make an opening offer that is a bit lower than the price you set but still a reasonable price for the vehicle. Explain that you’ve done your research. When you get a counteroffer, you can either stick to your guns or make a new offer. Negotiate slowly and make sure you are getting the full price – factor in any taxes and extra fees. Remember, the person you’re negotiating with probably doesn’t love doing it, either. Be ready to walk out if the seller won’t negotiate in good faith. 

Now it’s time for paperwork! Review everything before you sign anything. Double check the fees and taxes you are being charged. Some dealers will even charge you a documentation fee just to fill out the paperwork. Once you’ve reviewed everything twice, close your deal and sign the paperwork. Add your car to your insurance policy as soon as possible and make sure the title and registration are complete and correctly made over to you. 

You’re done! Time to celebrate! 

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      Enter your full name

      What is your glass issue?

      Enter a valid email

      Where can we reach you?

      Any additional information we should know about.