Buying a used car is a good decision if you want to save money on the car purchase. Sometimes car owners sell their cars only a few months after purchasing when they do not meet their needs. You may not have the luxury of changing cars every few months but you can take advantage of the good models in the second-hand market.
However, you must consider the other category of sellers who sell their cars when they develop mechanical problems. Some sell the car as a last resort having tried all types of repairs. Hence, you must be careful when buying a used car for the first time. The following tips will make your shopping experience successful.
Explore financing options first
It is easy to get financing for a new car as long as your credit history is in check. However, financial institutions apply stringent rules when financing second-hand car purchases. Banks will give limits on the mileage and year of manufacture. Check the relevant requirements for car loans with your bank.
Some dealers enable buyers to access financing for used cars. Consider buying from such dealers if you cannot get a car loan from your bank. You do not want to negotiate a deal only for the bank to deny your request for a loan.
Call the seller first
If you are using an online platform to buy a car, you can view all the available models and their description. In fact, buying a car online is advisable because you have an opportunity to compare different models and prices. Do not wait until you see the car to ask questions about its condition or history.
Check any online records you can get to learn the car’s history. Call the seller before meeting him or her in person and ask more questions about the car. You will get additional information that may save you the time of arranging for a physical meeting. In addition, you can ask the seller if he or she is willing to lower the price of the car.
Get complete service reports
Sellers expect buyers to ask for a service log before purchasing a used car. Some will start servicing their cars a few months leading to the sale of the car. Others give excuses for failing to provide the service reports. Do not take any excuses no matter how good the car seems to you. A serious seller should provide maintenance records dating back to the day the seller purchased the car.
Check the records carefully and determine if the car has any major changes especially on the engine. Stay away from second-hand cars with brand new engines. Chances are that the car had been involved in a serious accident and may not serve you for a long time.
Inspect and test drive
Inspect all the components right from the surface to the interiors, boot, and engine. Check if all parts are functional including the wipers, seat belts, brakes, and air conditioning. The best way to determine the functionality of the parts is to take a test drive. Drive for several miles while checking the functions of different parts. Take note of any strange noises when driving or stopping the car.
A car may appear perfect while stationary until you drive. Sometimes you need more than one test drive on different days to determine the real condition of the car. Sellers will often prepare the car for the test drive. Try to organize for a road test on a random day to make a better decision.
Negotiate a good deal and inspect documentation
The last step after determining that the car is in good condition is negotiating the best price possible. Remember that you may incur additional costs before you can drive the car home. Some dealers will charge a fee to transfer ownership to you because of the documentation changes required. You will also need to pay for the insurance policy. Factor in these additional costs when negotiating the price.
The best way to prepare for these negotiations is to check the prevailing market price for the specific model. Check the documentation especially the title deed to ensure that it is genuine and in the seller’s official names. Ensure that the seller signs all the necessary fields in the sales contract.
You can have a good or bad experience when buying for a second-hand car depending on your level of preparation. Do not leave anything to chance or assume that everything the dealer or seller says is true. Get as much information as you can about the vehicle and ensure that it was legally acquired. Information gives you the power to negotiate the best price possible for the car of your choice.