Buying a used car is usually a straightforward affair. You decide which model you want, you find a dealer that’s selling it and then you go and buy it. One can also negotiate on price with dealers to save a few extra bucks too.
There are loads of websites that offer expert guides on how to buy a used car. But have you ever noticed that there are few that tell you what you shouldn’t do during the buying process? The aim of today’s blog post is to change that.
Flickr / JLaw45
In it, you will learn what not to do so that you don’t end up getting ripped off or driving home in a lemon? Does that sound good? Excellent. Let’s continue…!
Setting a budget
When it comes to buying a used car, the one golden rule is to set a ceiling price that you want to pay. All too often I’ve seen folks part with more cash than they’d like to for the car of their dreams.
There are a few ways that you can work out the true value of the car you want to buy. For instance, you can go online and find out how much cars in a similar condition and age have sold for.
Assessing the value correctly
Car dealers often use many tricks to make the value of cars seem higher than they should.
One classic example is to give their cars a full wash, polish and wax. Sure, the car might look brand new on a dealer’s forecourt. But it’s only after you get the car home that you notice the clean-up job is making some deep scratches or paintwork problems.
What the car looks like is just part of how you should decide what it’s worth. Other factors include interior and engine condition, service history and so forth.
Going with your gut instinct
OK, this one is a little hard to explain so bear with me. When you go to see a used car, the vehicle itself might look fine. All the paperwork might appear to be in order but sometimes there is something inside of you that’s raising a red flag to the deal.
You just “feel” that there’s something amiss with the car or the transaction that’s about to take place. If your gut instinct is telling you all is not well, I recommend you listen to it and walk away.
Because, for the most part, your gut instinct is usually right! Sometimes the body language of the person selling you the car is telling you way more about the situation than their mouth is! Body language is a great way to determine whether someone is lying or nervous about what they are saying to you.
Examples include crossed arms when you ask them a question and even profuse sweating in an otherwise mild day. If reading the signs of other people’s body language isn’t a skill you have, you can learn how to do so. There are many websites that describe the signs to look out for and what they could mean.
Meeting a private seller at their home
Sometimes you might not want to buy a car from a dealership. There are plenty of bargains that you can take advantage of from private sellers. Many private sellers prefer to sell their cars themselves to get extra cash over what a dealer would offer them.
Flickr / JLaw45
Even so, it’s often easier to negotiate on price with a private seller than with a dealer for obvious reasons. Of course, there are some downsides to buying from an individual instead of a dealer.
You don’t have any legal comeback if anything should go wrong with the car. And there is a greater risk of fraud from unscrupulous sellers. One of the ways that you can check if the car you want is legitimate is to do an HPI car check on it.
Another way is to make sure that you meet the seller at their home. If they insist you meet them in a public place like a parking lot, don’t do it! Fraudsters often use this tactic so that they cannot get traced by the police.
Checking the car’s mechanical condition
A car that looks clean and immaculate on the outside can sometimes mask a multitude of problems. Unsuspecting car buyers might assume that a car is in good condition just on the basis of its exterior appearance.
The truth is; unless you do a thorough mechanical inspection of the car, you just don’t know whether you are ending up with a good car or a lemon. Not all people know the ins and outs of a car’s motor or hydraulic systems.
If that sounds like you, it will be best to take a friend with you that knows more about motors and hydraulics than you do. But what happens if you don’t know anyone like that? There is always another option.
Many used car buyers opt for an independent mechanical inspection. In a nutshell, you pay an auto shop or some other organization to examine the car in detail and provide you with an inspection report.
If you are buying a high-value used car, these independent checks can get used as a bartering tool to get the car you want for less.
Going on a test drive
As a used car buyer, you will doubtless have your heart set on a specific make and model. Some people don’t bother test driving used cars if they’ve already driven that type of car already. But that approach is a bad idea!
It doesn’t matter whether you’ve driven that type of car before or not. The purpose of a test drive is to make sure you feel 100% comfortable driving that car. A test drive will highlight most mechanical problems on the road.
Things to look out for include:
- Smoke coming from the exhaust;
- Odd smells or noises coming from under the hood;
- Warning lights illuminated on the dashboard;
- Suspension problems.
I hope today’s guide has been a useful resource for you. Feel free to share it with your friends!