10 things to know before buying your first used carby Peter Johnson
Here are 10 things to keep in mind before you sign the dotted line on a used car.
1. Before selecting a used car you want to buy, read some reviews and check if the car has a good track record in terms of reliability. You may get an unreliable car cheap, but it'll likely break down. Spend a little more money on something more reliable as repairs are still expensive on cheap cars.
2. Find out the fuel economy rating of the vehicle(s) you're interested in, and how much it'll cost to insure. If this is your first car, insurance will be high especially if you're getting a sporty, 2-door vehicle. Staying with a 4-door sedan will help you get better insurance rates. Also, with gas prices on the rise, fuel economy is becoming even more important.
3. Once you've selected a vehicle, make sure you know the history of it. There are a variety of companies that will run a history report on the car by checking that the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) of that vehicle was not reported in an accident, stolen, flooded, or repossessed. Most people are not up front as they want to sell the car. Do your research and stay away from anything or anyone you're suspicious of.
4. Find out the used vehicle value. Check online, local newspapers, and the Kelly Blue Book for what the vehicle is worth. Keep in mind that the 'book value' is not always the best measure for what the vehicle is worth as it just gives you the average value. Knowing what other people are asking in the area will help you negotiate and determine if you're getting a good deal.
5. Have the car checked by a mechanic. Sure you'll know if the car was in an accident through the history report but a mechanic can tell if the car was properly maintained. It would be a shame to buy a car and then realize that it needs a $1000.00 repair. A mechanic may find something that you did not notice and it could save you thousands.
6. Always stay level headed when looking at a used car for sale and try not to go alone. Having a second opinion is very important.
7. If you decide to take the car on a test drive, make sure to try everything out, including the a/c, radio, and power features (windows, mirrors, locks, etc) if so equipped. Drive the vehicle on a variety of roads and go to an empty parking lot to test the brakes and handing. But remember, this is someone's car so be respectful.
8. Stay away from older cars that have a lot of electronic gizmos. These are often costly to repair and are not as reliable as vehicles that are more basic.
9. Although a lower mileage vehicle is great, a vehicle with a lot of highway miles is not bad at all. Highway driving is very easy on the car. Stop and go driving is much harder. The condition of the car is more important than the mileage so long as the car was properly maintained.
10. Stay away from ex police cars, cabs, or rentals. These vehicles are traditionally driven very hard and sometimes not as well maintained. They're cheap, but risky to buy.
About the Author
Peter Johnson is the chief writer for all-about-car-selection.com.