Buying a Car Used: Five Mistakes to Avoid

Don’t let the fear of purchasing a “Lemon” keep you from buying a car used. While there are always going to be risks associated with buying a used (or new) car, there are a few simple steps that can be taken to ensure that the car you end up buying is in good shape and will last you a long time. Here are five mistakes to avoid:

Buying a Car Used Tip #1. Don’t Get Hooked

It’s quite easy to get caught up in the moment when looking at a dream car. Or after looking for a few weeks, pretty much any car can start to look appealing. It’s important to take your time and review multiple options that fit your needs and budget when buying a used car to avoid the desire to “just get it over with.”

Buying a Car Used Tip #2. Don’t Limit Your Search

Expand your search to cars outside of your area. The Internet makes this easier today than ever before. Many used car dealers have their inventory listed online, which makes long-distance window shopping quite easy. Websites such as CarsDirect will provide detailed listings and information on used cars in your area. This will give you a good baseline price, and whether you can get a better deal if you travel a little further. If you do find something interesting, a quick phone call can help determine if a particular car is worth the trip. It’s not possible for everyone, but the ability to travel to the best deal can potentially save you thousands.

Buying a Car Used Tip #3. Don’t Forget to Research

Be sure to learn as much as possible about your used car of choice before you begin looking in person to make sure this vehicle has the features and reliability you need. Try visiting any websites dedicated to the model you are interested in, as they can be an excellent source of vehicle-specific information, and often feature helpful “frequently asked question” sections. If you take the time to get familiar with your used car of choice, you will find that residents of the online automotive community are quite helpful.

Buying a Car Used Tip #4. Don’t Take Their Word for It

As we all know, car accidents aren’t always reported. Additionally, a small parking lot fender bender is no reason to disqualify an otherwise acceptable auto. When buying any used car, nothing is as telling as a firsthand look. Photographs can be quite misleading, and even the most poorly maintained vehicles can be made to look at least passable with an afternoon of elbow grease and a garden hose. Also buying a Vehicle History Report (VHR) through a company like AutoCheck or getting a basic free car history report can indicate whether the used car you want to buy has been in any accidents.

Buying a Car Used Tip #5. Don’t Go It Alone

Most independent shops or certified dealerships will have no problem performing a pre-purchase inspection. There are two major benefits to this minor investment. First, the mechanic will have the ability to check the underside of the car for leaks, rust or damage that may be invisible even while lying on the ground next to the car. Secondly, it will provide an additional road test to shed light on intermittent issues that may not have been present on your own test drive. This is a great plan of action for any used car purchase, no matter how perfect the potential candidate may seem.

When researching and buying a used car, it helps to be informed and prepared. By avoiding the most common mistakes that first time buyers often make, you give yourself a better chance at finding a safe, reliable car that will get you where you need to go.

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