10 STEPS TO BUYING A USED CAR
Before considering the purchase of a used car, it is wise to establish the amount you are willing to spend or, if taking a loan, calculate your maximum monthly payment – and then make a firm commitment to stay within that amount.
You may also want to consider an extended warranty plan. Chances are an extended warranty or service contract will be offered to you by the dealership. An extended warranty covers a wide range of repairs and services. The repairs can be done at any authorized dealership and tend to be easily approved. You won’t pay a penny for approved repairs unless your contract includes a deductible. You can also purchase an extended warranty from an independent company that could cost less than an extended service contract from a manufacturer.
Many professionals will tell you that this is where huge numbers of buyers make their biggest mistakes. They don’t buy the vehicle that is best for their needs, but instead get smitten with something that doesn’t fulfill their requirements, costs far too much money or, typically, both. Figuring out how much you want to spend was the easy part; now you have to find the vehicle that’s right for you. But most buyers (yes, most), are not really sure what’s out there or even what they need and want. Here are some suggestions: First, make a list of all the things you need your vehicle to do (haul kids, go off-road, get good gas mileage, be absolutely reliable, maintain good re-sale value, be easy to park) and then make a second list of all the things you admire in a vehicle (body style, colors, luxury options). Cross-reference the two. You should end up with a list of required and desired characteristics, which you can use to eliminate models that won’t work for you (you can’t haul kids in a two-seat sports car or operate a full-size sport utility vehicle on an economy-car fuel budget).
There is a lot of information available on the internet but, many professionals will tell you, most buyers simply don’t use that available information to their best advantage. To help, we’ve developed a couple of decision guides for refining your search. The Compare New Cars feature will put up to four new or used vehicles side by side for you to compare.