Used car shopping is like a box of chocolates: you never know what you’re going to get — unless you know what you’re doing.
An estimated 40.5 million used cars were bought and sold in the U.S. in 2012, while used car sales increased 4% from 2011 to 2012 as the recession is still taking it’s toll on the economy.
Used car shopping doesn’t have to take place on Craigslist, nor does it have to involve you driving around town looking for cars in people’s front yards. Used car dealers are located in just about every town across America, so it shouldn’t be too hard to find what you’re looking for.
Here are some tips on how to go used car shopping
- First, decide on the type of car you want. Think about where in the country to live and what car is best for that environment. Check you bank account: what can you afford? The best used cars for you will be in your price range, but should be in good condition.
- Research the make and model you are considering after you’ve decided on what type of car you’d like to purchase. Local car dealers will have reviews online for you to read up on and compare values with. If there have been any issues or recalls on a model, you may want to consider a different one.
- Once you’ve considered how long you plan on keeping a car, decide what you deem an “affordable” payment and how much you can afford to put down. Using an online calculator can help you figure out your payments. If you can afford to purchase it in full, do so!
- If you can’t put down the full amount of cash on the spot, establish a financing option. Banks are usually willing to offer financial assistance on used cars as long as you are in good credit standing. However, if the car is more than six years old, the bank may not help you.
- Used car shopping should be limited to used car dealer ships, independent car lots, classified ads and online.
- When it comes to what to look for when buying a used car, always ask the seller if it has been in an accident or what kind of maintenance repairs it has received. Get as much of the car’s history as possible and run CarFax and Autocheck reports just in case the dealer or seller isn’t completely honest about the car.
- Test drive the car to make sure that everything is in working order. Listen for any noises, check the tires, and ride with the windows down to determine whether or not the car is emitting smelly fumes. Most people interesting in buying a used car will drive it for at least 15 minutes.
There are an estimated 17,767 car dealerships around the country, so there are plenty of places to choose from to find the perfect car for you.
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