7 Common Mistakes when Buying a Used Car

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.

7 thoughts on “7 Common Mistakes when Buying a Used Car

  1. Valuable tips you have here, especially the car maintenance history. I didn’t know that such a service exists.
    I usually buy used cars from auctions. I know a dealer who buys cars from an auction in a nearby town, and when I need to shop for a used car for myself or a friend I go with him and ask him to help me buy a car and in return I pay him like $500 per car. The total is always amazingly lower than when I buy it from a dealer and I have a huge selection compared to one car sold by its owner.

  2. Great things to think about when buying a used car. Nowadays with gas prices the mileage a car can get is very important.

  3. I believe in the above seven points. We mostly ignore these things at the time of making decision which can be a slap on us for future….

  4. Great things to think about! Also, don’t forget about factoring in the price of extras when doing your budget. If you are looking at buying an extended auto warranty, you’ll want to make sure you have money set aside for it.

  5. I love your article especially on the ignoring the previous maintenance history. You are right, previous maintenance history is very important to ensure you know how well the previous owners took care of the ride.

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