With astronomical fuel prices and the current economic conditions, chances are that, if you're in the market for a car, you might want to buy a used car. Many of us can't see paying the price a new car commands. Besides, with all the talk of hybrids, electric cars and alternative fuels, it seems a bit risky to invest in a new car. Who knows what will be available, two or three years from now? However, buying a used car can be risky, too, especially if you're not mechanically savvy. Jon, from leading car salvage website Salvage Market has compiled our eight best tips for buying a used car in today's market.
1.Buy from a private party. This may take a bit longer, but in the end, this is perhaps the most important tip for buying a used car. Used car dealerships are very good at, forgive the expression, putting lipstick on a pig. A car in poor mechanical condition will be polished within an inch of its life, for that curb appeal. Warranties are often quite limited. Search the classifieds for the make and model you want. Sooner or later, you'll find that one-owner used car that's been well maintained. They are definitely out there. Be patient.
2.Research online at consumer ratings type sites to see if your choice of used car is reliable, with no major mechanical problems, such as brake failures or recall issues. Crash test safety data and airbags vs. just seat belts may be important to you.
3.While this tip for buying a used car might seem to be a no-brainer, many people get locked into a particular car's appearance at the expense of fuel economy. If we're lucky enough (!) to continue buying gas at $4 per gallon, a car that gets 20 miles to the gallon will cost you about $300 less per year than a model that gets 18 miles to the gallon, based on the average 12,000 miles per year.
4.If you intend to finance the vehicle, check with your bank to see how new your used car must be to qualify. Most banks won't go beyond a nine year old vehicle.
5.Check to see what your insurance rates will be. BTW, a white or silver 4-door may be significantly cheaper than the red 2-door, even though they're otherwise identical.
6.Here's another great, but little known, tip for buying a used car. When you call to make arrangements to see a car, ask the seller up front if they have maintenance records and if they would mind if your mechanic checked out the car. Asking these questions before you come to see the car gives you two advantages. If the seller does not have maintenance records, you may be able to negotiate a better price. If he does, chances are the car has been well maintained. As for the mechanical checkout, if they hesitate or refuse, don't waste your time, as these responses are a bad sign.
7.Depending on the age of the car, you've got to allow for minor dings or scratches every car gets over time. Evidence of major body work, or a seller's enthusiastic declarations of 'brand new paint' are another story. You might be looking at a bent frame, a dangerous situation. If your used car has high mileage and a new engine, this is a good reason to have a thorough inspection by your mechanic. There may be nothing else wrong, or it might be in need of a new transmission soon.
8.Our last tip for buying a used car may surprise you. Let's say everything is wonderful about this used car, except that the tires all need to be replaced. What to do? Use this as a negotiating point and buy the car! If you were the seller, would you put new tires on it? Of course not. You'd never recoup your investment, so don't expect the seller to do so. Besides, you can now shop for a deal on the tires you want.
When you follow these eight tips for buying a used car, you'll save money and have dependable, thrifty transportation.