Buying a used car is not just about the price, and there are many things to consider during the process. For example, you need to consider your safety on the road, from a private seller or dealer, how old the car is, and etc. Here are 8 tips that will help you buy a used car.
Table of Contents
- 1. Know Your Budget
- 2. Know Your Need
- 3. Buy from a Private Seller or Dealer?
- 4. Check Price & Build Your Target list of Used Vehicles
- 5. Locate Used Cars for sale in Your Area
- 6. Check Carfax Report
- 7. Mechanical check
- 8. Test Drive
- Final Thought
1. Know Your Budget
It goes without saying that price is important when buying a used car. Knowing how much money you can spend on a car means that you will not overspend on something that does not fit into your budget. Make sure you know how much money is in your budget before starting negotiations or test drives.
2. Know Your Need
Before buying a car, I would ask myself: Why do I need this car at the moment, and what I hope this car can help me with? You can also ask yourself several questions. For example:
- What are my main use scenarios for this car?
- What problems can be solved after buying a car?
- What are the expected configuration and parameters?
3. Buy from a Private Seller or Dealer?
If your budget is around 10,000USD, it is recommended to buy a used car from a private seller rather than from a dealer. Because the price of a used car is generally 1,000-5,000 higher than that from a private seller based on your budget.
From a Private Seller
You can ask the private seller questions as details as possible, such as:
- Why do you want to sell this car?
- How long have you bought it?
- Are there any problems with this car?
- Has this car had an accident before?
- Is it clean title in hand ?
- Is there a maintenance record of the car?
Asking these questions is mainly to judge if the seller is sincere or unreliable, and you can probably know whether the other party is in a hurry to sell, such as going abroad, or don’t care about the price, such as changing to a Mercedes-Benz. (This is very important for the later counter-offer).
Be cautious if the private seller’s asking price (especially for cars with larger sales volume) differs too much from the quotation on car-selling websites.
From a Dealer
You can also buy from the dealership. The advantage is that their quality can be generally guaranteed, and many also offer warranty service, but with a higher price.
4. Check Price & Build Your Target list of Used Vehicles
Research what type of vehicle would suit your needs best. There are many different cars on the market, so it’s important to know what you’re looking for. If you’re looking for an SUV, better search as many as SUVs you like before going to the market offline. This research will help narrow down the options.
The price of a used car generally depends on three variables: model, year and mileage. So you can roughly know the price of a car if you confirm these three items.
5. Locate Used Cars for sale in Your Area
When you have an idea of which car you need on the internet, then locate used cars for offline sale in your area, and then look at the model you choose.
Look at the car and ask about the car configuration, registration time, and listed price, and write it down with your mobile phone or laptop. Use the same method to find seven or eight cars of the same model in the market.
6. Check Carfax Report
To buy a used car, the first important thing is to check the Carfax report. This little money must not be saved. Many people end up at a big loss just because they find it troublesome or to save this little money.
Ask the seller to provide the VIN Number to you. Then check the Carfax report of the used car yourself and pay close attention to three points: titles, accidents, and owners.
There are three titles:
1. Clean Title
Clean Title is also called “Clear Title”, and most cars on the market are in this category. Many people mistakenly believe that Clean Title means that the car has not had any accidents, which is wrong. Clean Title means that the car has not had any major accidents. The so-called major accident is that the degree of damage to the car is defined as Total Loss. The insurance company assesses that the cost of vehicle maintenance is higher than the market value of the car, directly compensates the market price and tow your car away. As for whether minor accidents have occurred, it can be judged by Carfax or professionals.
2. Rebuilt Title
There are a small number of cars on the market that fall into this category. This type of representative car is repaired by Total Loss and is a Title issued after testing by an inspection center approved by the state government. Simply put, this type of car has had a major accident, but it has been repaired, and the structure has also been tested by a qualified organization.
3. Salvage Title
The repair is also completed after Total Loss, but it has not been tested and certified. The safety of this type of car is questionable, and no one can ensure structural safety. In some states, Salvage Title cars are prohibited from being sold on public roads; in some states, such cars are prohibited from being sold by individuals and can only be sold to car dealers and repair shops.
Among the above three titles, Clean has the highest value. Rebuilt / Salvage are major accident vehicles, so they will be much cheaper, especially Salvage without safety certification. Personally do not recommend this kind of car, because the safety and reliability are questionable. Of course, this type of car maybe thousands of dollars cheaper than the market value.
An accident or Not
The second point is whether the car has had an accident. You must choose a car that has no accident. Even a small accident is risky.
The third point is the number of owners and usage time. If a car change owners many times, the usage time for each round is short, be careful.
7. Mechanical check
Although the Carfax report is important, it cannot be fully believed because some people do not report insurance after an accident, but find a small car repair shop to fix it by themselves. That way, there is no record in the report. In addition, there has been no accident before, which does not mean that there is no problem now; as the mileage increases, the possibility of mechanical failure is increasing.
The State Safety Inspection only ensures that the vehicle has no safety hazards, including the main working components such as the engine, gearbox, and steering brake system. Their main purpose is to ensure that the vehicle can be safely on the road and sold legally, so it may not be very detailed. Some items or minor issues that do not affect safety are not the focus of their inspection.
When buying a used car, in addition to the officially certified second-hand car sold by Dealer (Certified Pre-Owned), the buyer must also ask someone to do a comprehensive mechanical inspection. Many mechanical problems are invisible from the outside, especially for novices who do not understand cars. Some accidents, such as being flooded in the past, may not necessarily be recorded, and ordinary people can’t see the traces, but specially trained mechanics can find them.
Mechanical inspection may cost 50-150 US dollars, but it usually ensures that the car you buy has no major inherent problems.
Ask the seller if you can go to the car repair shop to do a mechanical check, and you will pay for it yourself. Generally, sellers will agree. There may be a risk if the seller disagrees with your proposal and therefore doesn’t buy. Take a look at the report after checking. Don’t buy if there are major problems, such as engine, transmission, gearbox, etc.
8. Test Drive
Be sure to test drive. Go on both highways and small roads, and pay attention to some small details of the car. Only in this way can you have a comprehensive driving experience.
Hope the above 8 tips will help you in the process of buying a used car, especially tip 3, 6 and 7.