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Tips for Buying a Used Car

If you're looking to buy a used car, you're far from alone. Between private owner and dealership sales, nearly 40 million used cars exchange hands each year. With so many choices, finding that one right car for you can be a challenge.

So we've created a list of steps to help make finding and buying your perfect used car a breeze.

#1: Determine your budget.

The first step when buying a used vehicle is to determine your budget. It will narrow down your choices while searching the local area for deals, and you'll be able to calculate your monthly payment if you decide to finance it. If you do plan on financing the vehicle, research your options. You may find that a loan from your bank will have a lower interest rate compared to the dealership or manufacturer.

#2: Decide if you want to purchase a used vehicle from a dealership or a private owner.

If you're leaning towards a dealer, expect a bigger price tag. Used vehicles in their lot may include an extended warranty or service program, meaning these cars must be refurbished in order to meet warranty standards. Wondering where these cars came from? They're usually acquired from auctions or trade-ins.

#3: Buying from private party.

If you prefer buying from a private party, expect to do all the leg work. When you meet with the owner, be prepared with a list of questions regarding ownership history, maintenance upkeep and the current condition of the car. Do a walk-around and take note of any bumps or scratches on the car, as well as any leaks. Remember, as the buyer, you are in control of the sale! Feel free to ask as many questions as you want about the vehicle you are interested in buying, especially if you don't know much about the make of the car. It will save you financial headache in the long run.

Want to investigate the car's history yourself? Write down the VIN number (usually located on the driver’s side door or from outside - look at the corner of the dashboard where it meets the windshield) and you can run a vehicle history report online for a small price.

#4: Test-Drive the car.

Whether you are purchasing from a dealer or private owner, ALWAYS take the car for a test drive! During the drive, it’s a good idea to drive on hills, highways and in stop-and-go traffic. You’ll get a better feel for how it drives and decide if you feel comfortable driving it. So tune out distractions and focus on the car. Here are some things to check:

  • Do you see a lit "check engine" light? If so, get that problem checked out before buying.

  • Use your nose. Do you smell gas, burning oil, or anything else?

  • Check out the tires. How old are they? Is there enough tread left?

  • How are the brakes? Are they doing the job of stopping the car? Do they squeak?

  • Pop the hood. You don't have to know a lot about cars to see if something looks wrong. If something is leaking, steaming or covered in oil, it's time to ask questions.

  • Does the air-conditioning blow cold?

  • Do headlights, brake lights and turn indicators work? Test them to be sure.

After the test drive, ask the owner or dealer if you can see the service records. These will show you if the car has had the scheduled maintenance performed on time.

#5: Have the Car Inspected

If you like the car, consider having a mechanic inspect it before you buy. If you don't have a mechanic, Google and Yelp are good places to read local shops' reviews. A prepurchase inspection costs $100-$200 and can alert you to problems you may not find yourself. It's a smart investment. A private-party seller will probably allow you to do this without much resistance.

#6: Close the deal.

Finally, after negotiating a price, it's time to close the deal! Before you negotiate, make sure the car is priced fairly (you can find out it's worth on a vehicle valuation website). After a price is set, you should never pay a private seller with cash. If something goes wrong and there's no paper trail, it may be tough to get your money back. Along with the car, the previous owner should provide the original title signed by him, a dated receipt for the sale signed by you and the seller with the vehicle information and a spare key (if available). Also make sure to research the rules in your state regarding how the seller should transfer the title for the vehicle to you. Call your insurance agent prior to taking possession of the car for information on the process to insure the new vehicle.

If you are closing the deal at a dealership, it’s a similar process unless you are paying with a car loan or trading in your old car. Also, ask about getting an extended warranty for the vehicle at a fair price. This is usually negotiated separately from the car purchase.

From everyone here at Simplified Insurance Agency, Good luck and happy shopping!

To request a quote, you can get in touch with us or go online:

· Phone/WhatsApp: (561) 672-7897

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