Smart tips for buying a used car

Are you in the market for a pre-owned vehicle? Follow these tips to avoid getting stuck with a lemon.

Research the price

Are you looking for a particular model of used vehicle? First things first: go online to compare prices to find out what the market value is for your car of choice.

Make a budget

No matter what kind of car you’re shopping for, it’s easy to get carried away and go over your budget. Make a list of your wants and needs and establish

a budget that factors in insurance and maintenance costs. Don’t forget to leave yourself some wiggle room for the unforeseen.

Get your hands on the car’s history

Ideally, you’ll get the chance to view the invoices for any maintenance work done on the car. Dealerships usually keep the paperwork for all vehicles they’ve done maintenance on, and some private sellers do the same. Otherwise, there are organizations such as CarProof that offer vehicle history reports, but they aren’t always comprehensive.

Know who the seller is

Be sure you know exactly who you’ll be buying the vehicle from. There are ill-intentioned people everywhere, and the car sales business is no exception. The thought of making a quick buck can make people greedy. Knowing who you’re doing business with is crucial.

Have it inspected

Once you’ve taken all the necessary precautions, it’s time to have the car inspected. Bring it to an independent mechanic of your choosing — if the seller insists on taking it to a specific garage, take your business elsewhere.

Take it for a test drive

Take the car out for a spin — don’t settle for simply starting it! Ideally, you should take 15 to 20 minutes to familiarize yourself with the feeling of the car. Try to drive it on city roads as well as on the highway. Listen for any suspicious sounds, pay attention to the suspension and keep your eyes peeled for any little details that could reveal the vehicle’s true condition.

Get it in writing

If you buy your car from a dealership, you’ll need to sign a contract. Make sure that it matches your verbal agreement on all points. If you decide to purchase from an independent seller, it’s highly recommended that you draft a written agreement, even if you aren’t required to by law. In the event of future problems, it might offer you some valuable protections.

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