9 Mistakes to Avoid When Buying a Used Car
A guest post by David from CarUnderstanding.com.
Buying a car is both an enjoyable and stressful experience. Most people opt to purchase a car for convenience so that they don't have to endure the pains of commuting or waiting for a cab.
What most people don’t realize is that buying a car is different from buying a new pair of shoes or clothing. It takes a lot of logical decision making before you end up buying the car of your dreams. Before setting out in search of a second hand vehicle, here are some mistakes to avoid when buying a used car. Make sure you apply these so you don't get robbed of your hard-earned money.
This post may contain affiliate links. Please see our disclosure policy for more information.
Mistake # 1: Failing to list your the specifications
Treat this as your car shopping list. List the models that you prefer. Write down what you are looking for in a car. What about accessories? Think of what accessories are useful to you and which ones are not. Having a list helps you avoid compulsive buying.
Think of who will use your car and how you will often use it. Don’t opt for a trendy sports car when you have three kids. Don’t choose a four-wheel drive if you don’t take off-road trips. Choose a car that will be useful and not just an accessory.
Mistake # 2: Not doing your research
Once you have your list ready -- research. Edmunds.com gives you an idea of how much cars cost, new or used. Cars.com allows you to compare different models. Finally, search for sellers within a 5-mile radius and check out the cars they are selling. This helps you trim down your list.
Once you have a prospective car you’re eyeing, get the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) or license plate number. Check for the service history, traffic reports and ownership. This helps you track down if the vehicle was involved in any untoward incident and if it was properly maintained.
Mistake # 3: Making the deal right away
Don’t make a deal just because you love the flashy red color of the car. Avoid letting your emotions overwhelm you in making the decision. Chances are, you’ll regret it later on. Think of your list and stick to it. That’s what the shopping list is for, right?
Mistake # 4: Avoiding the test drive
A test drive allows you to have a feel of the car. Do your legs feel cramped or comfortable as you drive? Do your knees hit the steering wheel? Are the gears easy to shift? Take note of the air conditioning, the sound system, even the mileage and the dashboard lights. Listen to the sound of the engine as you start and as you drive it around. If you’re not satisfied with it, don’t make a deal. You are going to own it, so make sure you get the best value for your money.
Mistake # 5: Failing to establish trust with the seller
Communicate with the seller and get their trust. On the other hand, you should also show that you are trustworthy. Having an open communication with the seller helps you investigate the history of the car such as the reason for selling it. Of course, the seller won’t disclose major problems with it, if there are any. The seller should also trust you enough to hand over his or her car without causing any problems.
After you have purchased the car, you’ll be thankful that you established a good relationship with the seller. It will be easier to ask questions in case there are problems.
Mistake # 6: Forgetting the paper trail
When you have made the deal, make sure you leave with the complete documents in hand. A deed of sale or transfer certificate proves you are the new owner. You wouldn’t want to be flagged by the cops and accused of robbery, would you?
Ask for the insurance papers, warranty of parts and accessories, service receipts and maintenance records. This paper trail will save you on repair and maintenance costs in the long run. Consequently, you’ll have an idea of how much maintenance the car actually needs.
Mistake # 7: Going over your budget
You should primarily have a budget in mind. Remember to think of the overall cost of the car and not just the monthly payments. Think of fuel expenses, car washed, maintenance, repairs, insurance and taxes. Paying for the car is only half of it.
Mistake # 8: Failing to apply for financing and insurance
Before you even purchase the car, you should already have available financing. Car insurance is mandatory in the U.S. Car insurance covers you and other people who may be involved in an accident. Car financing helps you pay for the vehicle. Choose financing and insurance options that fit into your budget. Don’t be blinded by cheap deals or discounts. Read the fine print.
Editor's note: When was the last time you checked credit score? Use Credit Sesame to check your credit score for free.
Mistake # 9: Adding up on the extras
When scouting for cars, car owners will show you the most valuable assets installed. They may show you a high-end sound system with subwoofers and amplifiers. They may even show you those flashy mag wheels and built-in mobile holders.
Don’t get blinded by these extras. Choose a car that has useful accessories such as Anti-Theft Device, GPS, or Anti-Braking System. Go for extras that add security and safety. Don’t mistake those add-ins for a sign that the car is “the best one.”
What do you think? I hope that with the guidelines above, you now have a clear picture of what to do if you want to buy a used car. It’s not that difficult, if you think about it. You just need to logically decide how you want to proceed and not let your emotions get in the way.
If you have tips and suggestions for us, we’d love to hear them. Don’t forget to share this article! You may just have helped another enthusiastic car buyer by sharing.