Buying a used car is trickier than you might think. Sure, you want to get a used car to save some money, but you’ll need to balance trying to find a low price against safety and reliability. Just jumping at the first deal you see may put you at risk of purchasing an unreliable vehicle that’s prone to accidents, say auto attorneys McLachlan Law, so how do you find a used car that’s solid while still saving plenty of money? The following tips should help you on your search.
Know What Kind Of Car You Want, But Stay Flexible
It helps to go in with a plan, and if you’re looking to save some money, you’ll benefit yourself by concentrating your search on cars that were already economically priced when they were new — between $10,000 and $20,000 if possible.
Seeing as most cars lose between 20 and 30 percent of their value by the end of the first year (and 15 to 18 percent per year beyond that), targeting cars that started off relatively affordable when they were new will net you a great value if you can find them used.
Be sure to stay flexible and add more than one model to your wish list, though. This will grant you a bit of latitude in your search, and prevent you from feeling “boxed in” on a choice if you can’t find the first model you’re looking for (or at the price you’re after).
Do Your Research
There are certain indicators you can use to gauge the reliability of a used car, and you’ll find some of these by going through the vehicle’s detailed history. If you know the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) of the car you’re eyeing, you can use the NHTSA’s Vin Lookup Tool to search for safety recall information on the vehicle in question.
There are also companies like AutoCheck and Carfax that can help you get a vehicle history report, which will give you more information to chew on beyond the mileage and age of the car. You can use a vehicle history report to learn about whether the car has suffered any damage, what repairs and maintenance it has undergone, and other factors that will help you determine its safety and reliability.
Perform An Independent Inspection
As a final step, you might want to cover all your bases by hiring a mechanic to perform an independent inspection on the used car you’re looking at. This will help you identify any hidden issues that may not have been present on the auto history report. With that complete, be sure to take it for a test drive to see if you really like the car, and, if everything checks out, ride off into the sunset with your “new” vehicle.