Do Your Homework Before Purchasing a Used Car

As a car buyer, you have several options. You can buy a vehicle new from the dealer, buy a vehicle used from a dealer, or buy a vehicle used from a private party. In today’s economic climate, many consumers are choosing to buy used vehicles so that they do not fall victim to the steep levels of depreciation. Because these vehicles have already been owned and driven off of the lot, buyers can get more for their money without worrying about being upside down in their car loan immediately after the purchasing contract is signed. While there are several advantages to buying a car used, buyers need to make sure they do their homework so that they purchase a fully functional vehicle in good condition. The following are tips to keep in mind when you are doing your research to ensure that you do not make a bad deal.
Do Your Homework Before Purchasing a Used Car
How to Perform a Background Check on a Used Vehicle 
Luckily, for car buyers today, there are several different tools that consumers can use to run background checks on a vehicle’s history.  It is difficult to know if the vehicle has been involved in an accident; if the vehicle has been repaired for major problems; or if a vehicle being sold by a private owner has unpaid tickets or registration fees. If you fail to use the online tools that are available to help you do your research, you may purchase a vehicle that will require a lot of work or that will cost a significant amount of money to register. Here are some of the many tools that you can use to make the process of doing research easier:  
Run a Carfax Vehicle History Report 
Once you have a list of prospective cars, you should run a vehicle history check based on the VIN of each car. These reports are very comprehensive and will reveal vital information that you can use to determine whether or not the used car is the best option for you. You can see if the vehicle has been maintained, if there have been claims reported through insurance, and even if the odometer reading has been rolled back illegally. These reports can reveal hidden secrets that vehicle owners and less reputable dealers do not want you to know about. 
Find Out About the True Cost to Own
While there are a number of tools you can use online, many used car buyers fail to use the True Cost to Own tool, which can help you see what type of expenses you will incur when you own the vehicle you are looking at. This tool will help you learn about fuel costs, the cost of repairs, tax and title fees, and even the average cost to insure a car based on the year, make, model, and style. If you are looking at two or more vehicles and you want to get the best value, the TCO tool might help you make the best choice after you have taken time to compare the True Market Value of each through reputable consumer sites. 
Checking Registration Status 
If you are buying a car from a private seller, you must verify that the registration is current and the vehicle can pass a smog check. The seller must pay for smog expenses before the vehicle is sold. You should also contact the Department of Motor Vehicles with the license plate number to verify the fees have been paid and that there are no outstanding parking or toll violations.  
If you fail to do research, you may have a nightmarish experience when you are a buying a used car.  Do not buy in a rush and do your homework. Price the cost of insurance, the cost of registration, and the average cost of maintenance. Only after learning about the vehicle’s history should you feel comfortable about making an offer.

Denny Jones

Hey there, I'm Denny Jones, a seasoned financial writer with over a decade of experience. I'm passionate about simplifying finance and empowering readers to achieve financial freedom. My articles offer practical advice and insights to help you navigate investing, budgeting, and personal finance with confidence. Let's unlock your financial potential together!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *