All you need to know about buying a used car

All you need to know about buying a used car

If you’re in the market for a deal on used wheels, follow the steps below for a smoother ride.

Step 1: Crunch the numbers

How are you paying for your new car? If you’re paying cash, you already have a car budget in place. If you’re taking out an auto loan, your will need to determine with your lender how much you can afford.

Consider getting pre-approved for your loan before visiting the dealer’s lot. You can stop by TruMark Financial to find out about our fantastic auto loans or visit to compare auto rates and get pre-approved.

Step 2: Create a target list

What make and model car do you want to buy? Check out Consumer Reports for reliability ratings on vehicles from the most recent model years. Aim to narrow your choices to three or four cars.

Step 3: Research

Start researching prices and listings for your vehicles of choice. You can find used cars for sale in any of these locations:

  1. The used-car section of new-car dealerships
  2. Used-car dealerships
  3. Used-car retailer websites
  4. Websites where car owners privately sell their vehicles

When researching cars and listing prices, determine the average asking price for each car. TruMark Financial’s Car Buying Service powered by TrueCar provides you with upfront dealer pricing for new and used vehicles.

Step 4: Call the seller

Contact the seller to verify the information you’ve learned about each car. If you’re using a private-party seller, ask about any possible mechanical issues. If you’re working with a dealership, ask if the car is still in stock and for any information you couldn’t find on your own.

If everything checks out, set up an appointment for a test drive.

Step 5: Test drive

Pay attention to these details during the test-drive:

  • Is there sufficient legroom?
  • Is the ride smooth?
  • How is the acceleration?
  • Does the “check engine” light stay on?
  • Do you have full visibility?
  • Do the brakes work well?
  • Do all the lights work?

Next, ask for the vehicle’s service records to determine if it’s current on scheduled maintenance.

Step 6: Have it inspected

Having your car inspected by a mechanic can save you loads of aggravation and lots of money down the line.

Step 7: Negotiate

Make an opening offer based on the average price for your car and use all the information you’ve learned about your vehicle as bargaining chips. Be firm and you will end up with a fairly priced vehicle.

Step 8: Make it official

If you’re buying your car from a private-party seller, make sure the title and registration are officially transferred to you. If buying from a dealer, give careful thought to a warranty or any extra protection that may be offered. Finally, read the contract carefully and make sure you have insurance before you drive off the lot.

Now, you’re all set to take your new car for its first spin.