How to Purchase a Used Vehicle | 6 Tips and Tricks

August 3rd, 2022 by

We realize that sometimes purchasing a used vehicle can be a hassle, especially from independent sellers. Although, we are here to the rescue! Use these six tips and tricks to ensure you get the right deal on a vehicle that’s best for you. 

How to buy a used vehicle

1. How much can you afford 

Before browsing vehicles online or stepping foot into a dealership you must find out what you can afford to spend. Most dealerships require a downpayment on purchased vehicles, how much are you able to put down? When it comes to monthly payments, how much are you willing to spend? Also be sure to factor in additional costs such as tax, registration, and insurance. In addition to the initial or recurring costs, remember to budget for other expenses related to the car.

Unlike a new or leased vehicle that comes with complimentary maintenance, the responsibility of servicing a used car will be on you. Be prepared to pay for routine maintenance or potentially expensive repairs. 

2. Find the right used vehicle for you 

Once you’ve established how much you can spend on a used vehicle, it’s time to find the right one for you. Compile a list of multiple vehicles you have found scouring dealerships or independent sellers. With a list, you can start researching which vehicle will be in your price range and will fit your lifestyle needs. Factors to consider include whether you need 4WD, will you be hauling or towing anything, how much cargo or comfort space will you need, what kind of amenities are important to you, and what fuel efficiency are you aiming for. A great asset for you to use while comparing similar makes and models is our Direct Comparison page. As a dealership, we highly encourage customers to purchase a CPO (Certified Pre-Owned) vehicle.

A CPO vehicle has been put through rigorous examination at our dealership. These vehicles must meet certain parameters such as mileage, age, and condition. Certified vehicles are backed by warranties that can be even better than those of a new vehicle. They have also been serviced and detailed inside and out. Our goal is to ensure every CPO vehicle looks and performs as good or nearly as good as a brand new one.

3. Find used vehicle prices 

Now that you have a list of select vehicles or one specific vehicle in mind, it is time to check prices and run the numbers. If purchasing a used vehicle from a dealership, some warranties may be available on the vehicle. These warranties could potentially save you a lot in repairs down the road. Although purchasing from an independent seller may cost less, you are taking the risk of purchasing a used vehicle that could potentially have issues right around the corner. These repairs can be costly and you are responsible to have them fixed.

Before taking the next step of purchasing a vehicle, have your finances in order. If you plan to finance your vehicle it is wise to reach out to multiple banks to see who can get you the best offer. In other instances, financing through the dealership you plan to purchase your vehicle from may be more convenient. 

4. Ready to purchase your used vehicle 

When proceeding to go purchase your used vehicle it is important to be prepared with all your gathered information. Be sure to have with you your driver’s license, vehicle insurance, financial information, and the knowledge you have gathered about this vehicle. When purchasing a used vehicle you want to make sure and check the vehicle’s history report. CarFax and AutoCheck are great avenues to check a vehicle’s history report. If you’re seriously considering a vehicle for sale from a private seller, getting a history report is an especially good idea to head off potential problems.

5. Examine and test drive

Now that you have put in the time of budgeting, finding a used vehicle, and gathering information on it, it is time for a test drive. Before driving the vehicle be sure to examine the exterior and interior carefully. Does the vehicle have dents or dings? How do the tires look? Are the seats torn? Is the paint fading? Do all the amenities properly work? Also, be sure to check if the vehicle has thrown any codes such as a check engine light or a maintenance required light.

When test driving the vehicle be sure to pay attention to things such as blind spots, handling, steering, how the brakes feel, and even how comfortable you sit in the vehicle. After all, it is your money so be sure this is a vehicle you can see yourself driving for a couple of years. When going to look at a vehicle is it wise to have someone with you. Whether it’s for your self-protection or to have another set of eyes look at the vehicle. 

6. Purchase your used vehicle

Now that you have examined and test drove a vehicle that you are prepared to purchase, it is time for the less fun part, paperwork. By paperwork we mean not just the literal paperwork of signing the sales contract and finance/loan documents but getting other necessary documents in order. If you are purchasing a vehicle from an independent seller you will need a Bill of Sale. You can obtain a bill of sale at your local DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles). Also, be sure to get possession of the vehicle’s title and registration. Make sure and check they are correct and accurate. Last but certainly not least, be sure to put your new vehicle on your insurance policy before driving it. 

Now that you have the keys for your used vehicle in hand, it is time to take it home and enjoy the hard work that has paid off!


Posted in Car Buying Advice