How to Buy a Used Car in 7 Easy Steps

Used Car Buying

Whether your current car is getting too old for the road or you just want to change things up, buying a used car is one of the best ways to get a quality car while remaining within your budget. There are many benefits to buying a used car, including affordability and variety. So when you’re ready to purchase a used car, where should you start? 

Here are the steps you should take when buying a used car: 

1. Set a Budget 

First, figure out how much you’re able to spend on your used car. Not only should this budget include the initial purchase price of the car, but also the gas and maintenance costs. The maintenance costs should cover things like having your tires replaced, oil changed, and other basic servicing. You should also keep in mind that other ownership costs like insurance should be accounted for. 

2. Narrow Down Your Priorities 

Figuring out what matters most to you when it comes to cars will help you narrow down your priorities. Some of the top factors that car buyers consider when looking for a quality used car are safety, mileage, price, fuel efficiency, and appearance. Whether these are your top priorities or there are other factors you want to consider, this can help you find a brand or two that fit your preferences. 

Do research on the most reliable used car brands, in order to find the best car brand for you as you start your search. As of 2021, Chevrolet and Toyota are the top two most reliable used cars. After finding one or two car brands that seem to match your list of priorities, you can begin looking for specific models for you. 

3. Check Current Used Car Prices 

Once you’ve found a few car models that are a good fit for you, you can start checking current used car prices for those specific cars. You can find information on used cars for sale in the used car sections of dealerships, on used car retail websites like Carvana and CarMax, and from online listings from private sellers. Edmunds also has a Suggested Price site, which shows you what the true market value of your desired car is. 

4. Locate Used Cars for Sale in Your Area  

After estimating your budget, finding a car that works for you, and checking current prices, you can begin locating cars for sale in your area. Check retail websites like Edmunds and Carvana, and use their used cars search tool to find specific cars for sale near you. These sites allow you to filter your search results, curating a list of cars with the factors most important to you, such as number of miles, price, and other features. 

5. Take the Car For a Test Drive 

Now that you have found a few cars for sale near you, it’s time for the fun part! Contact the seller and schedule an appointment to go in and test drive your potential car. Test driving a car is one of the best ways for you to get a feel for a car. Look out for things like comfortability, blind spots, space (headroom, legroom, etc.), and how the car drives and how the brakes feel. 

6. Get a Pre-Purchase Inspection 

Taking a car for a test drive shows you how well a car drives, but it is no replacement for a professional inspection by a trained technician. The technician will check under the hood and the engine, run the car through a safety check, and report back on operational functions and wear and tear. It’s the most important step to make sure  you’re buying a quality used car. With a SureSale vehicle quality report, you will get a multi-point inspection, road test, and history check. This way, you will have all the need-to-know information to make an informed car buying decision through facts.

7. Negotiate the Asking Price  

With the car’s inspection report, you will have data on its current and past condition. If the report shows any problems or indications of outstanding or future repairs, this will give you the opportunity to negotiate the car’s asking price, in order to pay for repairs, or negotiate to have those repairs completed before you buy the car. 

Make it Official! 

Once you’ve found the exact car you want and negotiated the price with the seller, it’s time to make it official! Schedule a time to come in and meet with the seller to go over paperwork and any additional offers, like warranties or service plans, that you may want to add. If you’re buying a used car from a private seller, make sure that the car’s title and registration is successfully transferred to you. Congratulations! You’re now ready to drive off in your newly purchased car.