8 Tips for Smart Used Car Shopping

By Danette (Freelance Contributor) on Sunday January 27th, 2019
By Danette (Freelance Contributor)
on Sunday January 27th, 2019

Buying a used car can save you a lot of money versus a brand new vehicle. Some people, however, are reluctant to buy a used car because they aren't sure if they're really getting a good deal, or if they're getting ripped off. These 8 tips will help you shop smart and get a car that you'll be happy with.

Used Car Shopping Checklist
  • 1. Pick a Car That Fits Your Needs

    If you're a single person or a couple with no kids, you don't need to buy a giant SUV. On the other hand, if you have a big family, a small compact won't be what you need. Before you head out shopping, have in mind the type of car you're looking for.
  • 2. Investigate the Car's History

    Never buy a used car without running a background check. Go online and run a VIN history report, or ask the car dealer to do it for you. This report will tell you if the car has been in any major accidents, if it's been regularly maintained and repaired, as well as who owned the car in the past.
  • 3. Research Possible Issues

    Some car models have serious issues that mean it will need more frequent repair. A car dealer usually won't tell you about these, so do some online research on your own. Type in the brand and model of the car along with terms like issues, repairs, or recalls to see if any red flags come up.
  • 4. Hire a Certified Mechanic

    Arrange for a certified mechanic to take a look at any car you're interested in. He or she will quickly be able to spot problems that an average person that might miss and be able to tell you if the car is worth buying or if it's a potential lemon.
  • 5. Get an Insurance Quote

    Be sure to factor the price of insurance into your total cost. Different types of cars will cost more or less to insure. Before you make a final decision, get an insurance quote first to determine if the car still fits within your budget.
  • 6. Take the Car for a Proper Test Drive

    Taking a used car for a proper test drive involves more than just a spin around the block. Put it through its paces both around town and on the highway, seeing how the car performs under different conditions.
  • 7. Don't Go Over Budget

    A used car salesman will almost always try to get you to spend more than you should. Don't go over your set price - have a budget and stick to it no matter what. Also, beware of unnecessary extras that can swindle you out of your money.
  • 8. Know How Much a Car is Worth

    Look up a car's book price so you'll know how much it's worth. This is the absolute maximum you should ever pay for this car, and even then, only if it's in perfect shape. If the car is in less than perfect shape, negotiate the price. Most used car dealers are willing to haggle somewhat over pricing.

More Used Car Shopping Analysis and Resources