Unless you live in a select few areas of the United States where taking public transportation doesn’t lead to a migraine, owning a car is a real necessity. Getting to work, having a social life, running errands — without a reliable car, how can you ever expect to do everything you need and want to do without imposing on someone else?
Unfortunately, buying and owning a car represents a significant, ongoing expense. One of the best ways to mitigate this expense is by looking for a used car for sale that fits your budget and one that will help you do everything you need to in order to live a happy, productive life. If you’re one of the many Americans who needs a reliable vehicle to make your life just a little easier, here are four tips for going used car shopping to help you avoid being taken for a ride.
How to Not Be a Sucker When Used Car Shopping
- Buy the Car You Need, Not the One You Want
- Get Your Financing Set Before You Shop
- Take Your Local Car Dealership’s Word with a Grain of Salt
- Do Exhaustive Research
For Forbes, one of the biggest mistakes Americans make when shopping with second hand car dealers is buying something they want versus something that they need. Sure, that convertible looks, sounds, and feels good to drive through the late spring and summer, but what are you going to do when the colder months hit? There’s no reason you can’t find something that’s both stylish and practical, but remember to place your needs above your aesthetic desires.
It’s no secret that getting your financing from your dealer comes with a fat up-charge to help improve the dealership’s profits. That’s why U.S. News and World Report suggests squaring away your financing before you ever walk on a car lot. It’s not uncommon for banks to pre-approve those with great credit for auto loans, so save yourself a lot of money and visit your lending institution before you do anything else.
One of the unfortunate truths of used car shopping is that many dealers only care about making a sale. In other words, they’ll often say anything they can to get you to buy. That’s why you need to take what your dealer says with a grain of salt. If they say the car you’re looking at has never been in an accident, don’t take their word for it. Ask them for the VIN, and take that information to your local DMV to get an unedited version of the title history. Better safe than sorry.
The single best way to avoid being talked into a car you don’t want at a price you can’t afford, suggests the popular online guide to saving money Personal Finance, is doing your research. By doing your research, you know exactly what features each car offers and the price each option should command. In short, research is the best way to make an educated decision.