Buying a used car is different than buying a new car in a number of ways. Most used cars come with no warranty protection, so whatever problems they have will become yours the moment you take possession.
Conversely, financing a new car purchase can be pretty simple, but used car loans can cost more and be harder to get. Further, buying used can make shoppers think they’re limited in terms of selection.
These factors are inherent to the typical used car buying mistakes most people make.
It’s important to sit down and see how much room you have in your budget to support the purchase before buying a car. Make a list of all of your expenses, total them up and see how much money you have left after savings. This will tell you how much you can afford to pay for a car each month. Keep in mind you’ll have to cover the car payment, insurance, fuel, maintenance and annual registration fees.
Not Getting Pre-Qualified
With a firm handle on your budget, you’ll know how much you can afford to pay each month. With this in mind, you should approach lenders who write used car loans to get pre-qualified to get pre-qualified. This way you can conduct your search around a rigid set of financial parameters, which can help you stay away from cars you can’t afford.
This also gives you a bargaining chip when negotiating with both private sellers and dealers. If you’re already pre-qualified, they know you’re serious and you can also get dealers to try to beat the interest rate you already have.
Failure to Conduct Research
With all of the resources the internet places at our fingertips, some people still go shopping for used cars with no idea of what they want, how much to expect to pay, or what it will cost them to own the car. This is a recipe for financial disaster! You could wind up in a car that doesn’t serve your purposes, pay way too much for it and go broke trying to keep it running.
Allowing Wants to Outweigh Needs
One of the key factors of conducting solid research is figuring out what you need the car to do for you. Looking at a Mazda Miata is waste of time if you have a family and this will be your only car. Do you really need an SUV, or will a station wagon do—while being easier to drive and consuming less fuel?
Shopping Too Little
In most cases, you’re making a purchase with which you’ll live for several years. Should you really only spend one day shopping for it? The more time you spend looking around, the easier it will become for you to spot issues such as tired paint, bent wheels, worn pedals and the like. How can you know what to look for if you don’t spend any time looking?
Passing on the Test Drive
Similarly, how can you know if the car is quiet and comfortable on the road if you don’t used car loans to get pre-qualified? Can you see out if it comfortably and reach the pedals? Does it squeak and rattle on rough pavement? How can you tell anything at all about the way the car drives before you buy it, if you don’t test drive it?
Skipping the Mechanical Inspection
Yes, you might get lucky and find a real cream puff in need of no work at all. However, an inspection by a qualified mechanic with intimate knowledge of the model you’re considering is cheap insurance. They’ll know what the trouble areas are, they’ll look for things you wouldn’t consider, and you’ll get a much better car.
Avoiding these typical used car buying mistakes will help you find a car capable of serving you well for many, many years.