6 Tips for Buying a Used Car

Is buying a used car worth it?

Yes—if you know how to shop for one.

Buying a used car is your best option to save money on your vehicle purchase. If you get the right used car, you will spend far less money as the original owner paid the cost of depreciation during the early years. According to Black Book, a new car’s value decreases at 20% to 30% by the end of the first year. Afterward, it depreciates annually at somewhere around 15% to 18% from the second to the sixth year.

However, be sure that you will not end up needlessly spending money elsewhere, such as repairs, modifications, additional safety features, etc.

Here are 6 tips for buying a used car:

1. Know your budget (or line up your loan).

Having a specific budget helps you narrow down your search and saves you time and effort. If you’re financing your purchase, try to secure your loan before visiting a car dealer, to help ensure that you don’t end up overpaying for your car.

2. Do your research.

It pays to know what your best options are out there. You may have a specific model in mind, but it may not be a great choice for you, when you consider its selling points against your specific requirements.

This list of the best used cars for 2022 can help get you started on your search.

3. Inspect the car’s exterior and interior.

If you think you don’t have enough car savvy, take someone along who can help, even better if they you can get a mechanic.

Be sure to take a good look at the following:

Tire treads

The tires should have enough tread on them. The easiest way to do this is through the coin test.

Suspension

When you push down each corner of the car, it should smoothly bounce back up again.

Body and paintwork

Check for any damage such as scratches and dents. The paint should also be an even color throughout.

Cabin

In the cabin, the following should be in proper working order:

  • Lights, indicators, and lenses
  • Seatbelts
  • Seat and steering wheel adjustments
  • Windows and mirrors
  • Ventilation
  • Equipment such as central locking, stereo, interior lights, trip computer (if any)
  • Steering wheel controls (if any)
  • Sat-nav (if any)

Also, the mileage should be consistent with the paperwork, and the wear on the car should be consistent with the miles on the clock.

Seats

If you have kids and they will be in the car most of the time, make sure that there’s ample room in the back seat. The same applies if you have passengers most of the time.

Trunk

Ideally, there should be a perfectly functioning spare tire in the trunk. Check as well if you can easily put things in and take them out.

4. Ask the right questions.

Get a clear idea of what you’re getting by asking for all the relevant information.

What questions should you ask when buying a used car? Naturally, you will have your own very specific questions, but in addition to those, be sure to ask these:

  • Why are you selling the car?
  • How long have you owned the car?
  • Has the car ever been involved in an accident?
  • Where do you get the car serviced?
  • How often do you change the car’s oil?
  • Do you have the title? Is it a clean title?
  • Does the car currently have any issues?

5. Ask to see the car’s service record.

Vehicle history should factor heavily in your decision making. A used car’s service history tells you when and where services have been performed. If you purchase a car without its service record, you’ll be guessing instead at very important details of your car’s maintenance.

6. Take the car out for a test drive.

You can’t know if a car is the best one for you if you don’t have firsthand experience of driving it. Don’t make the mistake of buying based simply on reviews and looks. And when you do go out on a test drive, be sure to pay attention to how the car is performing on the road and how it is responding to how you drive. A test drive should never be just a quick drive around the corner; rather, it should be a careful observation of the car in motion.

So, is buying a used car worth it? If you know how to find the right car, yes. The savings you get will help put you in a great position to purchase the car of your dreams somewhere down the line. Or you can use your savings for more important investments, like a down payment on a house.

For peace of mind owning and driving a used car, purchase an EverCare vehicle service contract, as well as any of our ancillary products (e.g., road assistance) and retention products (e.g., EverKey).

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