10 Guidelines in Buying a Used Car


If you are considering purchasing a used car, don’t feel ashamed or alone because it has been reported that over 40 million used cars are sold and purchased yearly. Despite this huge amount of transactions, most buyers fail to take proper guidelines which make them more dissatisfied than satisfied over their decisions.

The dearth of proper guidelines, ignorance, negligence and crafty nature of most sellers are mostly responsible for this problem. It is even reported in some quarters that most dubious sellers go as far as tweaking the odometer and several other sensitive parts of their cars with the aim of deceiving buyers. When these buyers without prior knowledge of these acts patronize the sellers, they get swindled as they end up purchasing product with quality lesser than what they were actually promised. Some e-commerce websites like eBay have become aware of this plot and have made concerted efforts to distance themselves from these tendencies by modifying their terms of use. Currently, the terms of use and protection guideline possessed by most e-commerce websites do not protect buyers from the criminal tendencies of sellers leaving them at the mercy of their knowledge and ingenuity. The need for adequate guidelines for buyers wishing to purchase used cars prompted this post as it seeks to enlighten and inform prospective buyers of used cars regarding the necessary guidelines needed to be conducted before purchases are made.

Know what you need in a used car

There must be a reason for your desire of owning a car. It might be that you desire a secondary car that can be used for tourist ventures with your family which will tilt your preferences to mini-buses. It might also be that you desire a vehicle for driving through tough terrains which will make you desire mini trucks. Whatever your need may be, it forms the major desire for you to own a vehicle. Therefore before you purchase a used car, you already may have gotten an idea on the need for it which will influence your decision on the specific brand to purchase.

Aside from the normal desire you need in a car, there are other special features you may also desire in your car. One of these features is the type of engine. Generally, there are two types of engines for cars – diesel and petrol engines. It is believed that you may have gotten a vague idea on the engine you need in your car. In making this decision, it is imperative to weigh the pros and cons associated with each type of engine. The decision you make here goes a long way in deciding the model and framework of the car you will purchase.

In recent times, eco-friendly cars have gained huge prominence and purchasers of these vehicles receive huge concessions even from governments. You may desire an eco-friendly car, and it is imperative to know that most governments provide subsidies to buyers of them. For instance, the UK government provides subsidy of £5000 for buyers of the BMW i3 while the Norwegian government provides subsidies to buyers of energy-saving vehicles. Therefore, if your desire is to enjoy government subsidies, you may have to consider eco-friendly vehicles. The bottom line here is the fact that one needs to have an idea of the car you need before you proceed to make your purchase.

Know the long run cost implications

A used car may appear with a cheap face value which may appear to be enticing. However, there is need for proper scrutiny to be conducted on the various features of the vehicle to ascertain the extent of expenses the owner will incur on the long run. One feature that provides variations in long run costs for vehicles is the engine. Vehicles with diesel engines are more expensive on the long run due to the high cost of diesel in gas stations coupled with the expensive nature of vehicles with diesel engines. On the average, small engines are cheaper to maintain when compared to large engines. However, this comes with an implication as cars with smaller engines are better suited for short trips and movements round a small town. If you desire to own a car for shuttling between cities, it will be cheaper to get a large engine because smaller engines get stressed easily when used for long distances and thus burns more fuel.

A large number of people are often divided as regards the mode of cars they desire. While some may desire manual cars, others prefer automatic cars. One needs to know the cost implications of these vehicles before choosing to buy one. Manual cars are known for consuming much fuel and are more stressful to operate. On the contrary, automatic vehicles are easier to drive but costs more and are fuel-efficient. Therefore, the manner you view long term costs will help in choosing between manually operated cars and automatic cars.

Cost of insurance is another consideration made before choosing to purchase vehicles. Smaller cars tend to cost cheaper to insure than large cars. For instance, the cost of insuring a 4×4 vehicle is more expensive than that used to insure a small car.

Know the best time to buy a used car

There are peak periods to buy used cars and one need to utilize these periods to purchase used vehicles. As you wish to buy a used car, it is important to know the best time in getting a nice deal so as to avoid overspending. A careful study of the market for used vehicles suggests that most dealers close their accounts quarterly making them to sell vehicles at cheap rates at the end of each quarter. When these periods arrive, dealers try to sell off their used cars so as to balance their books adequately. It is best to purchase used cars in the months of March, June, September and December due to the huge offers provided by dealers to customers. Save cash and buy your cars during the end of the next quarter.

Know the best state of used cars to buy

The age of vehicles is an important consideration to be made while purchasing a used car. Generally, it is advisable that buyers should purchase one year old car because it provides more value than older vehicles. An average new car costs $30,000 but by the tie it clocks one year, its price falls to approximately $24, 000 which is a remarkable reduction of 20%. In one year, the vehicle is expected to clock 10, 00 miles and this does not completely wear it. Buying used cars that are above three years old create comes with huge depreciation and possible problems in usage. Most old used cars are not properly functional and this creates immense problems to the users. When you decide to buy a used car, go for cars with average age of 1-3 years as one tends to get huge value from them.

Know the financial implication of using used cars

There are two basic types of costs experienced by buyers of used cars – upfront and ongoing costs. They collectively decide the financial implications involved in purchasing these vehicles and it is imperative for buyers to have an idea on these concepts before deciding to purchase vehicles. These concepts contain various considerations buyers are expected to know before buying used cars. These concepts include upfront payments, finance payments, fuel, tax, car insurance, servicing, parking permit and toll fees.

As long as you have decided to purchase a car, there must be some financial conditions you have agreed upon. Whether you take out loans or you agree on periodic payments, there must certainly be a form of down payment to be done. Therefore, it is important for buyers to know the specific amount they will make as down payment before they proceed to purchase cars for personal use. In cases where you got loans, it is imperative to factor out the payment plan for the loans and decide if it will be feasible on the long run. Therefore, it is imperative for buyers to know the various cost complications involved in purchasing a used car before proceeding with the plan. You are advised to select a plan that you know you can manage adequately. With this in mind, you can purchase a used car and repay smoothly without facing financial constraints.

The fuel consumption level of vehicles is another financial implication buyers need to consider before purchasing used cars. Government agencies in various countries provide tables and guidelines that aid drivers and users of vehicles to make comparisons on fuel consumption levels. These sources and guidelines can be viewed and projections made before you can go ahead to purchase a particular brand of used cars. Also, tax rates varies across diverse vehicles and it is imperative for one to visit government websites to ascertain the tax structure provided before going ahead to purchase used cars. Taxes vary according to the model of vehicles and it will be very important to have an idea on your tax rate prior to purchasing the used car.

Cost of insurance for used cars is another financial implication to be critically considered before one goes on with the idea of purchasing a used car. You should know the right kind of insurance cover that will be suitable for you before you can go ahead to purchase a vehicle. For youngsters who just passed their driving tests, it is imperative to get insurance cover that adequately caters for breakdown costs because it tends to cover your needs properly. For older people with experience in driving, their perceived risks will be low and this will ensure that they adequately take a cover that will be less cumbersome in terms of risk cover.

Servicing are carried out on vehicles at least once yearly. It is important to ensure that your used vehicle is adequately checked to identify faults and correct them adequately. Servicing offers often start from $120 and varies across brands of vehicles. Therefore, a proper research should be conducted by asking technicians concerning the costs and the optimal frequency for servicing your dream model of car. When you get these figures, it serves as a guide and an insight as to the financial implication involved in using your car adequately. Expenditure on tyres is another silent but important mode of expenditure faced by car owners. Research should be conducted concerning the cost of purchasing car accessories in order to ensure cases of lack of funding in cases of breakdown. The issue of parking fees also comes to mind when considering the financial implications of using a used car. There are various rates associated with different brands of cars in terms of parking fees. Therefore, it will be excellent to know the fee linked with your desired brand. This is highly important except in cases where one does not desire to use the services of public parking services. Information on parking rates in various areas are contained on the websites of local councils and there, one can view and get an idea on the cost implications of parking before choosing to purchase a used car.

Make adequate comparisons

Purchasing of used car is an activity that requires aptness and readiness to make serious research. Get a jotter and note the addresses of car dealers within and outside your city. The reason for going outside your city is the possibility of getting it at rock bottom prices which will ultimately help you save a few more dollars. In searching for cheap pricing for used cars, it is imperative to be aware that you need to expand your radius by searching for dealers across the city and in neighboring areas also.

As soon as a proper record of all dealers within your city has been compiled, one can continue the process by visiting those dealers and get to know their prices. It is advised that you should not strike a deal immediately until you have visited all the dealers written on the jotter. Through the process if meeting and conversing with them, you can have an average or base price for your intended model of used vehicle. Also, try as much as possible to get information on the age of the car as it provides an insight on its longevity and ability not to break down easily. After visiting all the dealers, compare their prices, age of cars and the physical condition of the cars. You can still revisit some of the dealers and ask for price reduction citing that another dealer is offering same product at lower cost.

When most dealers understand that they are facing serious competition and due to the need for making quick sales, they will try to strike a deal that will be more favorable to buyers. Endeavor to utilize this opportunity and save yourself a few dollars.

Do adequate inspection

Car inspection is one of the most important guidelines to follow when purchasing a used car. It is a common practice by most dealers and merchants in the industry to give their cars sparkling physical appearances. However, most of these cars with beautiful physical appearances possess bad internal features. Therefore, there is need to make a holistic approach in inspecting used cars and the best approach recommended by experts is the use of mechanics and technicians to make private investigations on the cars. There are several things to check on a used vehicle before making purchases, and they include; mileage, overall condition, repairs, oil, engine, radio, lights and safety.

The average estimated mileage covered by a car each year is 10, 000 miles. Therefore, ask for the age of a car before purchasing and also try to ascertain the authenticity of the information through the odometer. When it reads otherwise, there is need for one to entertain fears regarding the authenticity and reliability of the car one is about purchasing. Most dealers have the attitude of clocking the odometer and framing up stories just to woo you to make purchases. This highlights the relevance of a technician as it is advised you go with one to make proper checks and unravel most bad tendencies carried out by merchants and car dealers.

Another important component of car checks to be done on used cars is its overall condition. In this context, it is imperative for one to search for dents and cracks on the vehicles. These researches try to tell one about the extent of use these cars have been subjected to. Physical condition of vehicles matter a lot because they tend to create a first impression on people. Also, check for repairs and try to ascertain gaps in repairs. It helps to provide an idea on the extent of mechanical work the car have been subjected to and also helps in ensuring we make an informed decision regarding the purchase of the car. Check for water leaks in the engine and also check for the oil level by lifting the dipstick to ascertain the oil level. The radio should also be checked to know whether it is free from deficiencies.

Endeavor to bargain

Bargaining or haggling is very important in ensuring you have a fair deal in your car purchase experience. Most dealers tend to place prices that are outrageous but this can be curtailed by haggling until a better deal is given. There is an unwritten rule in car purchase exercise – NEVER PAY THE ASKING OR DISPLAY PRICES OF USED VEHICLES. Endeavor you bargain the price until you get a better deal as most prices are set by dealers with the aim of reducing them during bargaining. For instance, a car may be marked for sale at the rate of $100 but a dealer may place an asking price of $150 for it hoping that when customers bargain, the price can be reduced to $100. Therefore, try as much as possible to bargain adequately so as to get a better purchase deal.

Get dealer protection by purchasing from a dealer

There are two prominent forms of purchases for used cars – you can either buy a used car from a dealer or from private personnel. These modes of buying come with their pros and cons but it appears as though the pros associated with dealership purchase far outweigh the pros for private purchase. Private purchase may be cheaper but there are no forms of buyer protection to cover the buyer in cases of exploitation and future damages.

Car dealers draw up agreements that are legal which are issued to customers. Before signing those documents, ensure that you read them properly to ensure that you are fully covered. There are several buyers that try to be crafty with their sales agreements with little or no provisions for customer protection. Endeavor to properly read the clauses in the contracts before signing them as it tends to provide an overview of the forms of protection offered by buyers to sellers. At this point, it is relevant to state that most e-commerce websites like eBay do not provide adequate cover for customers who purchase used cars. If your intention is to purchase your used car from eBay or other online market stores, you should be ready to face conditions with little or no provisions for you.

Test Drive the used car

Test driving is the best way to have a practical assessment of the used car before making a purchase. Through this process, one comes to terms with the condition of the car as its reliability is being put to test. While test driving a used car, there are several things one needs to check. They include; suspension, brakes by making emergency stops, clutches, engine noise, boot space and its power. Other conditions to check during test driving for used cars include; passenger space, veering, doors, boots and bonnet, try different routes, ascertain the possibility of fixing a child seat and check whether the driving position of the wheel is comfortable.

While checking the driving position on the wheel, check if the seats tilt, pedals, hand breaks and the mirrors. During the check for veering, check if the car veers to the right, left or whether it is balanced. Are the bonnet, boot and doors easy to open? Does the engine produce rattling noise? Will the car make people comfortable while undergoing long journeys? These and more are insights gotten while test driving used cars before purchase. If a car is in excellent shape, it can easily be noticed at this stage.


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