How to Buy a Used Car 101

Dominique Dragon |

A used car can be a great investment and often makes much more sense than buying new. But one major downside is that you don't always know what you're getting. With just a little bit of knowledge, however, you can become a confident used car consumer.

How do I get started?

The key to a successful used car purchase is putting in the time and energy on the front end to understand what you want and can afford, and doing enough research so that you know what to expect and what questions to ask from a potential seller. The first thing you want to know is what type of car you're looking for and your price range. Will you prioritize safety, reliability, look and feel, or having enough room for your family? Kelley Blue Book, Consumer Reports and other websites can help you narrow your search and find out what real people have to say about the vehicles you are considering.

How do I find a used car?

Craigslist, newspaper ads and for sale signs can still be an effective way to find a great deal, but search engines available on the internet are an extremely powerful way to find the perfect car for you and your situation, no matter what you are looking for. Kelley Blue Book, Autotrader, and other sites will give you access to used car listings from all over the country. In addition, you can break things down by make, model, location, mileage, cost, consumer ratings, and many other options to find just the car you want.

How do I decide what to buy?

Looking at a car and making a decision about whether to go through with the purchase is probably the most stressful part of the process of buying a used car. But if you've done your research, when you finally find a vehicle that is a good fit for you and your budget, you'll be ready. The first thing you should do is ask a lot of questions. Not only do you want to know the true condition of the vehicle and what you might be getting, you want to know whether you can trust the seller. Here are a few things you should ask and find out about:

  • Are you the original owner?
  • Has this car been in any major accidents?
  • Do you have service and repair records for this vehicle?
  • Why are you selling?
  • Are there any known issues with the vehicle?
  • How did you determine your asking price?

If the seller isn't forthcoming with their answers, it might be time to move on. Next, test drive the car and if possible, have it checked out by your own mechanic. Take your time and don't rush into a decision. If the seller tries to pressure you, take that as a sign to run the other direction.

Becoming a confident buyer:

Finding a great used car takes some time and effort. But there is so much information out there that anyone who is willing to learn can become a confident and successful used car owner. Give yourself some time to learn the ropes and you'll be bringing home the car of your dreams in no time.

For any auto insurance questions, call or contact CFA Insurance Agency, LLC today.