Private versus Dealer-Buying from a private party or a buying from a dealer both have their own advantages and disadvantages. Dealers are able to offer financing and insurance. They also will take a trade-in. Most dealers offer warranties as well. Private sales also have benefits. The upfront cost of purchasing a vehicle through a private party is usually lower. The process of buying through a private party is a more relaxed situation because the seller is not aiming to meet monthly quotas.
Get Vehicle's History – Researching the vehicle's history will help you determine whether the vehicle has been in any previous accidents or any other problems the vehicle may possess. You can retrieve a history report from CARFAX. The CARFAX report contains the following:
- Reported accidents
- Vehicle damage
- Number of previous owners
- Some service records
- Locations where car was previously registered
- Safety and reliability ratings
- Warranty information
Budget-Determining your budget for purchasing your used car should be done before visiting any car dealership. Predetermining your budget will prevent the salesperson from adding on unnecessary warranties and fees. To get started with your budget, obtain a credit history report and get your credit score. After receiving your credit score, shop around at your local banks and credit unions to determine what kind of loan you are qualified for. Keep in mind, when trying to determine a budget, focus on the total cost of the vehicle, not the monthly payment cost.
Determine what vehicle you need – Purchasing the right vehicle to suit your needs may be more difficult than it sounds. Consider the aspects of a vehicle that are important to you, and then narrow down your choices from that point. Vehicles are driven almost every day, so having a reliable car is very important. Maintaining a vehicle that is consistently in need of a repair can be extremely costly. If you're driving long distances, you may want to consider the vehicle's fuel economy. Also, consider passenger space, if you have a large family and need more room, looking for an SUV or mini-can could be your best options.
Tires – Be sure to inspect the vehicle's car tires when deciding to purchase your car. New tires can be quite costly. Tires should be evenly worn and all tires should match. The condition of the tire can be determined by the surface of the tire. To test the wear of the tires, take a regular penny and place it in the groove of the tire. If you are no longer able to see Abraham Lincoln's head on the penny, then your tires are at a safe tread depth. If you can see all of Lincoln's head, then the tires should be replaced.
Replacing the tires may not determine whether or not you purchase the vehicle, but keep in mind if you're buying a used car for $4000, $400 for new tires is already 10% of the cost of your vehicle.
Test drive – As it is common sense for car buyers to take the vehicle for a test drive, we have created a small checklist for you to inspect the vehicle before, during and after the ride.
- Check all fluid levels
- Inspect under the vehicle
- Inspect all tires, including spare
- Test vehicle's brakes
- Examine hoses and belts
- Listen to any unusual noises
- Check heating and A/C units
- Comfortability of the vehicle
- Test vehicle speakers
- Test horn, turn signals, windshield wipers, door locks and dome lights.
Full check lists can be found online for a thorough inspection of the entire vehicle. We recommend you print a check list off and bring it with you on the test drive.
Unusual Noises-Strange sounds may indicate a serious problem with your vehicle. Take caution if the vehicle is making unnecessary noises. Cars can making unpleasant noises for many reasons. If the noises coming from the car sounds like clicking or tapping, it could mean problems with the upper valve train or low oil pressure. Deep knocking noises indicate that the rod bearings are worn, and should be fixed before you purchase the vehicle. If the engine is making grinding noises, this may be a problem with the vehicle's brakes. The grinding noise is the sound of metal grinding against the cylinders, and the vehicle's brakes will need to be replaced. All in all, any unusual noises coming from the vehicle indicates a problem, and it should be looked at in more detail.
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