Car shopping to me is equivalent to a root canal, there isn’t much that I hate worse. But making sure you take these few important steps to buying a used car can at least make it bearable.
How Much Can You Afford? This is the most important step in the guidelines to car shopping. No matter how much you love a car, buying something you cannot afford is rarely worth it. Experts say that your monthly car payment should never be more than 20 percent of your take home pay. Staying within your budget can prevent you from getting in over your head, and keep you in a reasonable budget.
Make a List of Cars You Want. Believe it or not the car you want could be the car you can afford. It might not be as new, or the right sub-model, or color, but overall with research and time, you can find what you are looking for. The best way to do this though, is to make a list of at least three different cars that meet your needs, and find the ones that fall within your budget.
Find a Reputable Used Car Dealership. Ask friends, family and co-workers for a reliable, trustworthy car dealership or sales person to visit. Check them out online,with the BBB and then begin searching their inventory for for what you want.
Test Drive. Test driving not only gives you an idea if it’s the right car for you, but it also will give you an idea on how it handles, and if it’s in good condition. Try to drive the car the same way you would on your way to work, or whatever type of driving situations you experience on a daily basis – highway, back roads, and fast breaking etc.
Check the Car Facts. Before you start making a deal on a vehicle that you think might be the one, make sure to run a car facts report – in fact, some dealerships will have them on hand, or even order them for you. If the report is negative – move on!
Get a Vehicle Inspection. Once you make a decision and have test driven it, ran the car facts, and know you can afford it, have it checked out by a professional. If you have a regular mechanic most of the time they will check it out for free; if not, you can hire a professional to check it out – a pre-purchase inspection can save you thousands of dollars (and lots of heartache).
Negotiate. Make an opening low offer – but in the ballpark. Always be prepared to walk out – be patient – leave if you are starting to feel frustrated, tired or hungry, you can always come back the next day – and don’t be distracted by them bringing in the ‘boss’ or a financial specialist. I’m kind of a sucker so I always bring my Dad with me to tell me what I should do, I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve walked out of a dealership, to have the sales person come running after me with a better deal.
These few steps will help make the car buying process a bit more tolerable.