A new car’s value depreciates tremendously in the first few years of ownership, so buying a used car can save you a lot of money. There are still some pitfalls that you can fall into however when buying used vehicles that you need to watch out for.
The key to getting the best value is to avoid money-wasting mistakes. Many of these mistakes are easy to avoid and are surprisingly common.
Here are the seven most common blunders that used-car shoppers make:
- Failing to Check the Model’s Reliability Record
One advantage to buying a used car is that there has been enough time for consumer satisfaction surveys and repair records to have come in, unlike a brand-new, unproven model. Research the model’s ratings from Consumer Reports or another evaluation service. Above all, avoid the temptation to make an emotional decision because you see a cute car on the lot or a low price.
- Ignoring the Car’s Maintenance History
Car buyers previously had to take the owner’s word on maintenance history, but computer searches now make it easy to find a vehicle’s track record. CarFax and AutoCheck can give you extensive records on whether a vehicle has been rebuilt, in an accident and who previously owned it. The services also list a car’s complete maintenance history, even if the car was serviced by multiple shops.
- Not Getting the Vehicle Inspected by an Independent Mechanic
Before spending $75 to $100 on a mechanic, do some basic checks yourself. Look for oil leaks under the car, and make sure that power windows and locks work. Check for body rust, especially if you’re searching among Used Cars in Ohio, Michigan or other northern states.
- Settling for a High Price
Used car prices are almost always negotiable. Be prepared to go somewhere else if the owner or dealer insists on a price beyond what you’re willing to pay.
- Letting the Dealer Devalue Your Trade-In
Always negotiate the price of the car you wish to purchase before indicating that you have a trade-in. If the dealer doesn’t offer you enough for your trade-in, shop around for a better price.
- Bad Financing Rates
Before going to a used-car lot, go to your bank or credit union to get pre-approved for a rate. When the dealer offers a rate, make a counter-offer just as you would the car price. A common trick is for car salesmen to ask, “How much can you spend per month on a car payment?” Don’t fall for this trap because the dealer will simply extend the length of the loan.
- Negotiating Add-ons
Many people will haggle over the car’s cost but pay full price for an add-on. First find out what the add-on would cost if you purchased it elsewhere and negotiate the price accordingly.