Buying a used Vehicle
What kind of car to look for? How to choose the 'right' car? What mileage is OK? What to look for when buying a used car? There are many questions you may have when it comes to buying a car. While the great feel and overall pleasure of driving a brand new car is undeniable it almost always makes more financial sense to buy used. You can get a car that's almost as good as new without suffering the depreciation that batters new car buyers as soon as they drive off the lot. Also bigger bargains are possible for the smart used car shopper. In the following are general steps to follow when searching for your new, 'used' car:
Step 1 - How much to spend?
Decide what you want to spend. It's always a good idea to start any car-buying process with a preliminary budget to help you determine how much money you feel comfortable spending. Make sure you've accounted for insurance and other maintenance costs that you will be responsible for. You want to buy something that you can afford, something that will not put excessive strain on your family budget. If you know your budget ahead of time, you will be able to better focus on what you need and won't be easily distracted by more expensive cars.
Step 2 - Find your car.
Before starting a used car search its best to remain flexible. If you're set on only one model, in a specific colour, with a certain mileage etc. you may find it hard to get the best deal as you will be focusing on too narrow a market. If you're prepared to consider something similar to what you want, you'll find a much wider choice available.
Make a list of all the things you need your vehicle to do (haul kids, go off road, get good mileage, has a high safety rating) and then make a second list of all the things you admire in a vehicle (body style, colours, luxury options). You should end up with a list of qualities from which to eliminate models that won't work for you. When buying a used car, look for a model that has a good reputation for reliability and won't lose its value too quickly. The lower the mileage the better, but don't put too much value on the mileage alone; the mechanical condition of the vehicle is more important.
Step 3 - Examining the vehicle.
Conduct a thorough walk-around, a physical assessment of the vehicle is absolutely paramount before you even consider purchasing. Take your time with your examination.
Look at the bodylines does the hood, trunk, and doors line up with the rest of the car. Are there signs of repainting, look for over spray, open the trunk, hood and doors. If you see signs of this ask the seller why he had it painted. Was it in an accident? Are all the body parts the same colour? Now look at the undercarriage is it free of rust. Look at the tread wear patterns of the tires, this could show suspension problems. Make sure all power options work, windows, locks, etc. Check air conditioning for proper operation. Make sure heater and defroster works properly. Check the engine oil and engine compartment you are looking for any signs of leaks or improper maintenance. Ask to let your own mechanic look at the vehicle. An honest seller should stand behind his/her car. Ask for a CarProof, so that you have a clear history of the vehicle right in front of you.
Step 4 - Take the car for a test drive.
Now it's time for what could possibly be the most important part of your personal used car inspection - the test drive. Test drives are essential for a variety of reasons but most importantly, they provide you with an immediate analysis of the car's functionality and real world drive-ability. Make sure the car fits you. Set the seat in a comfortable driving position and attach the seat belt. Make sure that you can reach all the controls without straining, that the controls are easy to use, and that the displays are easy to see. Start the engine it should idle smoothly without surging or sputtering. It should accelerate from a standstill without lurching forward or hesitating. When you turn the steering wheel you should feel almost no play in the wheel before the car reacts either right or left. The engine should idle smoothly without clattering or metallic sounds.
With a manual transmission, the clutch should fully engage well before you take your foot all the way off the pedal. If there isn't at least an inch of play at the top of the pedal's travel, the car may soon need a new clutch. With an automatic transmission, don't confuse smoothness with slippage. When you accelerate, there should be no appreciable hesitation between the engine's acceleration and the car's. If there is, it's an almost sure sign of transmission wear - and a costly fix down the road. Test the brakes the car should stop straight and quickly, without pulling to one side and without any vibration. The pedal feel should be smooth and linear, and stopping the car shouldn't take a huge effort. It is recommended to take the seller with you and ask questions when noises pop up. Listen for noises, rattles, or grinding sounds. If you hear rattling in the quarter panels, the car may have been in an accident. If the car fails on any of the above points it is then your call whether you want to walk away or negotiate the price based on the repair estimate. Be sure to ask the Seller or Product Advisor if you have any questions, do not allow anything to linger, there may be a simple explanation or a quick fix.
Step 5 - Discussing the price.
When buying a used car, we all want to pay a fair price; used cars should sell for their market value. The price of a used car is based on its condition, mileage, reliability, performance and popularity; not what the seller or dealer paid for it. Of course, you want a car that is reliable and performs well.
Step 6 - Closing the Deal
Remember before signing anything read the fine print and whatever you don't understand ask someone who is knowledgeable about contracts and legal formalities before signing. Once all of the paperwork is complete, it is finally time to relax and begin enjoying your new purchase: a good used car. Pat yourself on the back for a job well done.