New vehicles aren't cheap. Many people also don't like the idea of having to finance a new vehicle either since it usually means committing to five years of payments and interest. A new vehicle that is financed also means more expensive automobile insurance as comprehensive and collision coverage is required. A better option for many people is to buy a good used vehicle instead. If you're in the market for a "new-to-you" used car or truck, here are four things you should know before you head to the used car lot.
Skip the Private Sales
Everyone knows a guy who knows a guy whose brother is selling his truck. The problem is, you never know what you are going to get with a used vehicle from a private party. They likely haven't had it inspected recently for any problems. It's also extremely unlikely they are going to be 100 percent honest with you about any problems it's been having. Stick to a reputable dealership instead; they have a vested interest in protecting their reputation. They want a happy, loyal customer for life, especially in this day of social media where you can either praise them or leave scathing reviews if you aren't satisfied.
Do Some Research First
You will have a much better idea of what the going price for a used car or truck is if you spend a little time researching before you visit a used car dealership. Look up the average price for the year of the different makes and models you are interested in. With this information in mind, you will be able to identify fairly priced vehicles.
Chances are, you will be looking at more than just one used vehicle. To avoid confusion, bring along a notebook, or even better, create a simple vehicle identification form so you can write down the pertinent information of each vehicle you are considering. List things like the dealership, make, model, year, price, and mileage as well as the point of contact and their telephone number. You may also want to take a picture of each vehicle with your cellphone so once you are home, you can keep everything straight as you narrow down your choices.
You need to do more than just kick the tires. Ask the salesman a few key questions about each vehicle you are considering. Ask if there are any known issues or if the vehicle has ever been in a major accident. Check to make sure the title is clear. Ask how many owners there have been and if the vehicle has any service records attached to it. You can record this information on your notes.