Tuesday, July 9, 2024

What To Know When Buying A Used Car

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12 Things To Check Before Buying A Used Car

To drive your vehicle, the vehicle must have valid license plates and validation stickers. There are some important details that you will need to know:

  • You will need two license plates on the front and back of the vehicle
  • Plates are valid to the owner and not the vehicle so you will have to get your own set after purchase
  • Validation stickers must be renewed every one or two years and usually expire on your birthday

Typically, the validation sticker is placed on the top right corner of the rear license plate.

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Check Reliability And Ownership Costs

Every used car is different. Some have been driven more miles and have more wear and tear. But, in general, you want to make sure you’re choosing models known for their dependability. Consumer Reports and J.D. Power collect maintenance reports from owners and rate all used cars.

A closely related issue is the total cost of ownership. Some cars are cheap to buy, but will cost a lot in the long run because of insurance, maintenance, repairs and depreciation. Several automotive websites, such as Kelley Blue Book’s Five-Year Cost to Own or Consumer Reports’ Cost of Vehicle Ownership, show estimates of these expenses.

Find Cheap Auto Insurance Quotes In Your Area

If you’re looking to pay a rock-bottom price for a used car, the answer is almost always buying from a private seller. However, there are important pros and cons to keep in mind before doing so.

That means buying from an individual, not a business routinely engaged in buying and selling cars for a profit. Yes, you give up the fancy showroom and probably any financing options. But there are pluses to private sales, too.

Here are some of the important advantages and disadvantages of going with a private seller and what you need to know as a buyer.

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If Youre Paying Cash Keep It To Yourself

Both new and used car dealers make a big chunk of their profits through financing, both in their in-house financing department and third-party lenders that pay them commissions. If you can afford to pay cash, youll save big money in the form of interest never paid but the dealer loses that money. Once you show your hand and reveal that you wont be needing financing, the dealer is immediately incentivized to stand firm on the price to make up for that loss. The same principle holds true if youve already secured preapproved outside financing.

Research Which Used Car Is Best For You

What You Need to Know Before Buying a Used Car

Youll need to find out which vehicles meet both your needs and budget. A good place to start the process is right here on Carfax.com. The Car Research section on Carfax.com contains a treasure trove of information on vehicles from previous model years, including detailed reviews, fuel economy ratings and how much those cars are being sold for right now.

Research Used Cars and learn more about New vs. Used Cars.

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Setting A Firm Budget Will Help Prevent Buyers Remorse

Before you buy a carnew or usedset a maximum price and stick to it. Determine what you can realistically pay each month and then use that as your barometer when youre shopping. Keep in mind that youll also have to pay for things like registration, insurance, and transfer fees .

If youre planning on financing a used vehicle, its a good idea to secure financing before you even start shopping for a vehicle. Once you find out what youre able to borrow, your entire experience will be streamlined for you. Youll know whats realistic and whats out of you range, which makes your decision that much easier.

Knowing exactly what you can afford will also improve your experience with the salesperson. If youre worried about being upsold into something you cant afford, a pre-arranged financing limit will give the dealership a very firm price to work with. That being said, if youre worried about being taken for a ride by your salesperson, then youre probably not buying from the right dealership.

Why An Inspection Is Crucial

Not everything shows up on the Vehicle History Report. Minor accidents that didnt result in insurance claims, interior damage, and crappy repair jobs all skate by right under Carfaxs nose. You need to be able to judge whether a car is in good enough shape.

Expert Tip: Always schedule inspections and test drives during daylight hours. Daylight makes problems with the vehicle easier to spot.

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Checking The Gearbox And Clutch

Gearbox and clutch checks are less about what you can see and more about what you can feel.

Manual and automatic gearboxes are available, but there are different types of automatic gearboxes which can behave differently. Whatever gearbox the car has, it should engage all gears smoothly and quietly. If it doesnt theres a problem.

In a manual car the clutch biting point – the point that you feel the car start to move when releasing the clutch pedal – should be around the middle of pedals travel. If you have to push your foot all the way to the floor, the clutch will need attention. It could be as simple as an adjustment, or a pricy replacement.

You should be able to change gears easily. Resistance or grinding noises also points to a problem.

Whichever type of automatic gearbox youre testing, make sure you engage all of the gears, make sure the kickdown works – the function that changes down gears when you press the accelerator pedal to the floor. If the car has a manual mode, operated either by steering wheel-mounted gearshift paddles or a manual operation on the gearstick, try it out to ensure it works correctly.

Its worth remembering that CVT gearboxes dont actually change gear, although in some cars theres a gear shift function that mimics the action of changing gear.

Understand That This Is Not A New Car

What to know when buying a used car

Don’t have too many expectations. The fewer expectations you have, the less you will be disappointed.

Of course, you buy a vehicle that has belonged to at least one other person. Thus, it is quite normal to see in certain places, both on the outside on the bodywork and on the inside in the passenger compartment, signs of wear.

In addition, the fact of purchasing a used vehicle could result in it no longer having a full or partial warranty on the vehicle since it has expired. You will therefore have to assume the expenses in part or in full in the event of an electronic failure, motor, etc. Of course, if you take out a guarantee, it will cover certain breakages! Always check this detail.

Without in-depth mechanical knowledgee, the purchase of a used vehicle was a source of stress.

I had bad luck twice but I finally found a great car.

The Kiwiz team is responsive and offers very good advice. my three inspections were all done within 24h. The reports provided are extremely detailed. I highly recommend their services! »


About this, you can go read our article concerning the purchase from an individual or a dealer.

In short, choose the type of used car salesman with whom you feel most comfortable doing business. Some people prefer to do business with a dealer/dealership by choosing from their inventory of used vehicles, most of the time certified, because the process is less hassle.

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Get A Vehicle History Report

A car might look amazing on the surface, but even the worst cars can be dolled up to appear better than they actually are. Instead of trusting your eyes or what the salesman tells you about the car, you should always request a vehicle history report before actually buying it. There are many companies in Canada that offer these reports, including CARPROOF and CARFAX. These reports are very helpful when shopping for a used car, as they include information such as previous accidents, liens, and much more. Best of all, these reports are fairly affordable so there is no reason not to take advantage of them.

Some dealerships will be able to provide these reports, but even if they dont, it is definitely worth it to spend the extra money to be aware of anything thats happened to that vehicle in the past.

How To Buy A Used Car From A Dealer

When purchasing a car from a dealership, follow the steps below to get the best price on your used vehicle.

  • Shop several reputable dealerships that offer certified, pre-owned vehicles. These vehicles will come with a warranty, either from the dealer or manufacturer.
  • Negotiate the price before mentioning your trade-in
  • Bring pre-approval documentation and necessary paperwork when closing the deal. Also, make sure to carefully review the purchase contract.

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Are There Any Warning Lights When You Turn On The Car

Do any lights stay lit on the dashboard? A lit check engine light doesnt always mean a serious problem. It could be due to a temporary condition such as a change in humidity or an unsecured gas cap.

Ask the seller how long it has been on, and note if the check engine light is solid or blinking. Generally, the latter is much more serious. A mechanic can tell you the cause by running a simple diagnostic test.

For questions regarding other lights, Auto Zone provides a handy guide.

17. Check the Brakes ThoroughlyDoes the brake pedal vibrate? Does stepping on the brakes cause squealing or scraping sounds? If so, the car will require a brake repair or entire replacement. According to CostHelper.com, this could cost $130-$900.

No one wants to shell out for new brakes, rotors, and calipers right after buying a car!

Here Are 10 Things To Know When Buying A Car:

Used Car Buying Secrets That Dealers Don

1. Know What’s on Your Credit Report

A car purchase is a major expenditure, so financing should be at the top of your to-do list before you even start looking at potential vehicles. Knowing your credit score, for starters, can be a huge help. The higher the credit score, the better chance you have of negotiating a lower interest rate on an auto loan.

If your credit score is less than satisfactory, review your credit report to find out what might be affecting your number in a negative way, and do your best to correct it if possible, since the better your score, the lower your interest rate, as a rule of thumb.

Determine if there are any immediate actions you can take to raise your credit score quickly. For example, if you discover that you have accounts in collection, negotiate a payoff with the original creditor in exchange for removing the derogatory item from your credit report.

If you have a recent late payment that’s creating a blemish, simply ask the creditor if it can be removed as a courtesy. And if there are errors on your credit report, then dispute them with the credit bureau that published the erroneous information.

Remember, there are three separate credit bureaus that lenders turn to for credit history reports when pulling credit scores, including Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union. Each has similar but different scoring methods, so be sure to check your report with all three bureaus to get the most accurate overview of the health of your credit.

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How Do You Perform A Proper Test Drive

A 30-minute test drive is essential to evaluate how a car runs in a realistic setting. Plan a familiar route and test actions you would typically do hit the brakes, put it in park, take a corner, accelerate, merge and change lanes. Get a feel for the cars accessories and ensure they work.

Get the test drive checklist.

How To Get The Right Car Insurance

Upgrading your used car is a great time to explore or reassess your insurance needs to make sure youre getting the right coverage. Youll need to provide proof of insurance before finalizing the sale, so shop around and see whats out there in terms of prices and what your premiums will cover. There are lots of great discount programs out there too. Read more about how to get the right car insurance for you.

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Important Things To Look For When Buying A Used Car

Financially speaking, its smarter to buy a used car than a new car. Used cars depreciate at a slower rate, meaning they retain more of their original value after being purchased. Statistics show that new cars lose about 10 percent of their original value the moment they are driven off the lot. And after a year, they lose an additional 10 percent to 30 percent of their original value. Used cars can still suffer from depreciation but at a much slower rate than their new counterparts.

VIDEO: Should You Buy A New Or Used Car?

Even with their cost-saving benefits, though, some consumers are reluctant to buy a used car, fearing they could end up with a lemon. If a car was previously owned, how do you know that it was properly maintained and is safe to drive? Here are 12 things to look for when buying a used car to ensure you get the right vehicle for the right price.

Used Car Bodywork Checks

Tips for Buying a Used Car | Consumer Reports

Checking the bodywork is one of the easiest visual inspections you can do while looking at a car. Essentially, youre searching for any signs of repainting or replacement panels that might suggest the model has been in an accident. Car park dents and dings can be common on doors, too, while a chipped front could suggest a lot of heavy motorway miles. Check for panel gaps, and the door seals for potential leaks, as well.

You should check as much of the car as you can, outside, underneath and, where possible, inside. Old repairs arent necessarily a bad thing as long as theyve been completed properly. They can even help to build a picture of the cars past.

Check for rust on all metal body panels. Rust will begin by bubbling under the paint, but left unchecked, it can force the paint off and can eventually rust through, so its worth getting it fixed. Untreated stone chips and scratches can trigger rust.

Pay special attention to the cars wheelarches, especially the edges of the lips inside the wheelarches, as water, salt, road grime and grit can all conspire to cause rust. And also check the cars sills – the panels that run under the doors on both sides.

You should also look for evidence of crash damage, and more importantly, evidence of poor repairs. In bright daylight, check the body panels are of a uniform colour and look for evidence of overspray on glass, rubber seals and plastic trims.

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Browse Used Car Listings

From there you can browse cars for sale on our Used Car Listings here on Carfax.com to get an idea of whats available where you live, and how theyre priced.

You can search for a specific make and model, by body type or according to a set price range. From there you can sort models in your search according to price, mileage, model year or distance from your particular Zip Code.

See Carfax Used Car Listings and learn How to Buy a Car Online. Shopping is even easier with the Carfax App.

How Can I Find The Most Efficient And Reliable Car

You have plenty of good options for efficient and reliable used cars. In general, you should look for vehicles and car brands that have good reputations for not breaking down, and you should consider the needs of your family: A minivan isnt a great option if you dont have a massive gang of kids, and a pickup truck is not practical if you mostly want to do city driving.

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What Is The Mileage On The Odometer

Asking about the mileage on the car can give you a great inclination of the overall wear-and-tear and depreciation and value of the vehicle. Say youre looking at a five-year-old crossover with 124,000 miles on its odometer. If your alarm bells arent ringing, they should be. Thats because the value of any used vehicle is based on how many miles are left on the car.

Get Financing Lined Up

10 Things You Need To Know When Buying A Used Car From A Private Seller

Now that you have some vehicles in mind and your budget set, research your finance options. Most dealers offer financing, but we always recommend having an alternative as well. That can be a loan from your bank or credit union.

If the dealer can offer you a better deal, great. But getting pre-approved for a loan and your financing ready before setting foot in a dealership gives you more flexibility and wont make you beholden to just one sales lot or dealership. It also shows the seller that you are a serious buyer, not just window shopping.

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Things To Know When Buying A Car

Car-buying is an exciting yet stressful journey. Luckily, there are a few things you can do as a prospective buyer to prepare yourself for the car-buying process, ensuring things go as smoothly as possible, and that you get a good deal on a car you love. Before you head to the dealership or take a vehicle out for a test drive, consider doing some research to arm yourself with the important information you need to be a savvy and informed car shopper.

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