Despite living in a time where we have more information available to us than literally ever before, buying a used car is still something that is really tricky to get right.
And it can be disastrous should you fail to do that.
But fear not, here’s what you need to know.
What Kind of Car You Need
First on the list of essentials is knowing what you want, because if you don’t know what you want you can never find it.
With that said, it’s more about practicality than daydreams.
Even if you could find a Ferrar in a used car dealership, I would recommend you stay away from it because of those kinds of cars are spent by the time they get there.
As I said, this isn’t about daydreams, it’s about your everyday life and the kind of car that will serve you well in the process of you living it.
So in order to get a practical car, you will have to think about what you need from it every day.
Do you need a big sturdy work vehicle? Or a tiny two-seater that almost runs on air?
Also think about your lifestyle, if you are the type of person who loves to travel you will have to have quite a bit of storage in that car.
If you run a lift club you will need more legroom for passengers.
It’s Safer To Buy From a Dealer
Well, more or less anyway.
It’s more about having a fallback if the car isn’t what they said it would be, which can happen quite a lot with used cars.
They are more likely to help you with that because they have a reputation to take care of, and those things are so fragile in the modern world what with how easy it is to spread the word on social media about two-faced dealers.
It’s also about financing, it will be much easier to get financing on a car from a dealer than a private sale, which may not be important if you’re buying cash, but for mere mortals, it’s a bit of a big deal.
Oh, and speaking of social media, internet and all that, be sure to do your research on the dealerships that you are considering too.
There are actual websites dedicated entirely to reviews of car dealerships.
Has The Car Been Recalled?
It’s important to know if your car, even if it is used, has been recalled.
This usually happens when specific car models are found to be defective in some way and thereby threatens the safety of buyers and society.
This is also known as a Lemon Car.
Even though there are laws to protect you against car dealers, tricking you into buying one of those cars, you can also do your own research.
When all is said and done, all you can trust when buying a used car is your own research, and facts. Always work with facts. (Although that gut instinct is not to be ignored either)
As it is, you can easily check if there has been a recall alert for the type of car your buying by checking the VIN number on the DMV’s website.
There is also a page for checking if the car has been stolen.
Can They Provide Service Records?
A service record it’s basically a book or system where you log the maintenance and upkeep of the car you are driving.
It’s an important tool to make sure that you keep up to date with your car’s maintenance, but it’s also important for someone who wants to buy a used car.
this will give you an idea of how well the car you potentially want to buy has been looked after but it will also give you an idea of what condition your car is in mechanically.
It’s important to look for spaces and a car’s service history that stretch out too long because it can mean that either the car was damaged and had been repaired instead of serviced or it can just be negligence, which is also not great for the mechanics of the car.
Needless to say, it’s important to go through a car’s service history with a magnifying glass and a fine comb.
But what if it doesn’t have one?
Well, then my advice to you is this – back away, back away slowly and then turn and run.
How To Inspect a Car
At first glance, a car can look all shiny and spotless but do not be deceived, a shiny oyster can still hide a rotten pearl.
A crucial skill you will have to learn throughout this process of finding a car is to inspect a car that you are interested in buying.
That means learning how to spot if it has been in any serious accidents;
First off you will have to check if there is any mismatched paint and ask the reason for that – sure the sun does fade paint but blotchy paint is a bit of red flag.
Check the exterior for any visible dents, check if the bodywork’s lines line up, check for scratches, peeling or bubbling paint and rust.
These may indicate deeper issues that can and should dissuade you from that purchase.
You should also ask if you can test drive the car and while doing so, check all interior features and electronics, the ac, windows, etc. but also check for fluid leakage, which can be a serious warning sign.
If you know zero to little about cars you can always print out a used car checklist and practice on your significant other’s car.
A Good Mechanic Goes a Long Way
No, I’m not talking about fixing a car so you can buy it, I’m talking about having a mechanic inspect the car for mechanical and structural defaults.
But was the point of you doing that then?
Well, it’s a bit like advancing in levels of a game, once you’ve passed the easier levels, you will go on to more challenging tasks in order to eventually win.
You would be surprised how many cars will fail your test, which is why it’s so important for you to do that before you bring in the big guns.
Dealers have their own mechanics, but they will always swear that the car is in great shape even when it’s far from it.
So you really need to get an independent mechanic that you can trust, to inspect the car for you.
Ask family and friends for recommendations, it’s usually best to go with someone that someone you know trusts.