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A Complete Used Car Checklist You Didn’t Know About

If you’re considering buying a used car, then you’re probably hoping to save a little bit of money. You probably know that brand new vehicles depreciate very quickly, but this can be true of older vehicles as well. You can maximize value by selecting a reliable model and inspecting the vehicle’s condition beforehand.

Shop Around Before Making a Purchasing Decision

You can use Kelly Bluebook to find the fair market value for your vehicle. You may also negotiate the loan price. Many people don’t realize this, but you can pay the same price for a vehicle while stretching the loan out by a few years. This can drop your payment from $200 a month to $150. Dealerships are all different. Some are more flexible about agreeing to your terms. 

Some may also offer alternative financing options. Some dealerships will sell vehicles to people with bad credit. You can also certainly negotiate the sales price of the vehicle, but many dealerships are very rigid because they already sell their cars at market value.

Research the Vehicle’s History

It’s very easy to get scammed while purchasing a used car. A vehicle with a perfect paint job may have serious electrical problems or faulty mechanical components. You can check out a used car’s history by looking up its 17-digit Vehicle Identification Number.

Ask Questions About the Vehicle’s Included Warranty

You should ask the dealership about vehicle warranties before you even consider looking at cars. This is extremely important because many dealers will offer warranties on vehicles that are a few years old. They may be selling a 2000 Honda Civic for $5,000 less than a 2009 vehicle, but the car may need a new transmission in two years. Manufacturers typically have their own Certified Pre-Owned warranty programs. If you’re into purchasing a used car with warranty, then read the specific provisions. You may be surprised about the number of things that aren’t covered by a standard vehicle warranty.

Consider Adding Additional Vehicle Protection Plans to the Loan

Free warranties typically only protect the buyer from mechanical issues that may stop the car from running. Purchasing an additional protection plan can protect your car in the event the air conditioner, radio, or windshield wipers stop operating. Some dealerships will allow the buyer to add the cost to the existing monthly vehicle payment. This is important because air conditioners and other minor components can break after just five years.

Select a Reliable Make and Model

Some of the cars are more trustworthy than others. The Honda Fit, Ford Mustang, and Buick Regal are all reliable automobiles. If you plan on keeping your used car for at least five years, then you’ll want to make sure the engine and transmission remain operational. Many cars keep running for years after the auto loan is completely paid off.

Check for Signs of Rust

It’s not uncommon for auto dealerships to paint over car rust. If the rotors or hoods are rusted, then you might end up dealing with a leak or other issue within just a few years of purchasing the vehicle. This is particularly important in warmer climates. Cars up north tend to rust because cities add salt to the roads to melt snow. Most people in warm climates don’t even bother to check for rust on the rotors or underneath the vehicle. Used auto dealers sometimes bring these cars south because they know customers won’t bother to check the vehicle’s undercarriage for structural rust.

Hire a Mechanic to Inspect the Vehicle

An auto sales associate will do almost anything to get a car off of the showroom floor. You will probably end up buying from a salesperson you trust, but it’s still a solid idea to have the car checked out by a third party before purchasing. If a dealership doesn’t allow you to do this, then it might be a hint that they are hiding something they don’t want you to know about.

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