Buying Your First Used Car ##BEST##
The best way to save money is to buy used. A new car loses almost half its value in the first five years, so go for one that's a few years old yet still has contemporary safety features and many useful years ahead of it. Buying used also means a nicer car for the money than possible if buying new.
buying your first used car
When shopping for a used vehicle, make sure there's a car-savvy adult on hand. During the pandemic, be sure to wear a mask, maintain social distancing, and be prepared to clean the car surfaces and your own hands with sanitizing wipe. This can make buying now a bit awkward. Consequently, you might favor buying from a dealership that has sanitizing protocols in place or a family member, rather than purchase from a stranger, until the pandemic passes.
Professional car salespeople have been trained to push sales and get the most money for a car. That's what they do, day in and day out. Many shoppers are outgunned during this phase of car buying, and a first-time buyer usually doesn't stand a chance going solo.
If you're buying from a private seller, negotiating is usually straightforward. Research online what the current wholesale price (aka trade-in price) is for the car based on its condition, mileage, and location. That's your target price.
These advanced features reduce injuries and fatalities. They are readily available on new cars and can be found on late-model used cars. If your budget permits, they are smart investments to help protect new drivers:
An oft-overlooked factor you should consider when shopping for a used car is the cost of auto insurance. Prices can vary substantially based on the model you choose. Our guide to car insurance is the place to find the cheapest insurance with the right coverage for your new-to-you vehicle.
With our used car rankings, shoppers can compare pre-owned vehicles by their overall scores and individual factors car buyers tell us are critical to their buying decisions. These factors include predicted reliability, safety, performance, and interior comfort and features.
Another benefit of automaker-sanctioned CPO programs is access to special used car financing deals. Used car loans typically cost more than new car financing, but a CPO financing deal with a low interest rate can dramatically cut the cost you have to pay on your auto loan.
If you're sitting on a pile of money and plan to pay cash, you can skip this section. If, however, you're like most used car buyers, you'll need a loan to help pay for your used vehicle. It's true that you can have the dealership's finance office arrange your financing. Still, if you want to save money, you need to get a pre-approved financing offer before you get anywhere near a car dealer. A dealer may be able to beat your pre-approved loan, but if you don't have one, they'll have no incentive to do so.
If you're buying from a private party, you have no choice but to find your own financing. The process can be different for private-party buyers, so be sure to talk to your lender about what they'll need to move your loan application forward.
Community banks offer many of the same auto-lending services as large banks, but they do so with a smaller geographic footprint, fewer branches, and often a more personal touch. Like credit unions, community banks are great places for borrowers who need a bit more help to finance their used car purchase successfully. With their roots in the communities they serve, many will be able to offer tips about other businesses in the area that can help you through the car-buying process.
Just as smart buyers should talk to multiple car dealerships and other sellers before buying a used car, you should apply at multiple lenders to find the best financing deal. It's critical to do so during a short span of time, so the credit reporting agencies don't think you're taking out multiple loans and ding your credit score over and over. Do your shopping over a week or so, and they'll just see it as one transaction. That's important, because each transaction that pulls a credit report lowers your credit score by a few points.
It's important to run the numbers yourself and not to rely on the math of a salesperson. They're trained to keep you focused on the payment, because they know that's the easiest way to get you to overpay for your used car.
Just as there are many places to get used car financing, there are various places where you can purchase a used car. Each has its strengths and weaknesses in terms of service, ease, and price. Like the car you want to buy, you should strive to learn as much as you can about the dealership or private seller trying to sell it to you. Checking the company out with your local Better Business Bureau or consumer protection agency is an easy way to find out about their track record. You don't just want to look at the number of complaints, but how they responded to correct the problems.
When it comes to used car dealerships, national or regional used car superstores are the new kids on the block. They offer many of the same advantages of franchised new car dealerships, such as expertise in handling paperwork, step-by-step buying processes, and access to an array of lenders. Many sell their own line of add-on products, such as extended warranties valid at any of their locations.
They also have access to a vast selection of used cars. With most dealerships, you're limited to the pre-owned vehicles they have on their lots. That's not the case with used car superstores such as CarMax, which can draw on inventories from across the country and bring those vehicles to your local outlet.
Because of their reputation for taking advantage of the most vulnerable buyers, most consumer advocates advise against buying a car or financing at a buy here, pay here dealer. If your credit is so poor that this type of dealer is your only option, you should not be buying a car. Doing so only invites further financial troubles.
Flood, Fire, or Other Damage: A vehicle history report will also indicate other damage, such as water damage from a flood, fire damage, or damage from a hailstorm. The first two should disqualify a vehicle from your consideration, due to the high potential of hidden damage.
Sales Information: The sales information section of a vehicle history report will show when the vehicle first entered service and how many times its ownership has been transferred. Watch for vehicles that have been moved repeatedly from state to state, or from an area that has recently endured floods, fires, hurricanes, or other natural disasters. Not only is moving a car one way to mask title issues, but it can also be used to hide flood damage.
When the time comes to start looking at used cars in person, your first impression of both the vehicle and the seller should tell you if you should move the process forward or walk away. If you're looking at a car from a private seller, it's a good idea to treat it like a blind date and meet somewhere public away from your home and theirs. You want to look at cars in the daylight, as the dim light of evenings can prevent you from spotting damage.
Evaluating a used car means using all of your senses (except maybe taste, because that would be gross). It should also include your sense of intuition, which will help you determine if something doesn't seem right.
Taking a test drive is one of the most critical tasks in buying a used car. However, the rules have changed due to the coronavirus pandemic. You need to place your personal safety above all else. You should insist on taking your test drive solo. If the seller refuses, either walk away, or set strict ground rules about mask-wearing, drive with the windows down, and ask them to sit as far away as possible.
While you should note every flaw during the drive, not all should eliminate the car from consideration. Some issues can be used as bargaining chips when negotiating a price. All issues should be brought to the attention of your pre-purchase inspection mechanic.
A great test drive may have you ready to write a check and drive the car home right away. However, there's another critical step you have to complete before you decide to buy. With just one exception, you should not buy a used car without a comprehensive pre-purchase inspection by an independent mechanic. The only exception would be if you're buying a relatively new certified used car with factory warranty coverage from a franchised new-car dealership.
Some used car sellers, such as Carvana, are simplifying the car-buying experience by eliminating last-minute fees and pivoting to a no-haggle sales process. The car's advertised price is not negotiable, and no dealer or documentation fees are added to the purchase price.
You can avoid falling for this unethical practice by financing your used car purchase outside of the dealership and ensuring all of the documents are finalized before you sign. Watch out for phrases such as "conditional approval" or "conditional delivery." Don't sign any papers with those terms.
Buying a manufacturer-certified used car typically gets you factory warranty coverage, eliminating the need to immediately purchase an extended warranty. Other used vehicles are usually sold as-is, with no warranty past the car's original factory warranty. Once that warranty ends, or if it is already finished, you'll be on your own for repair costs. Consumer advocates almost universally advise against purchasing extended warranties. If you decide to anyway, be sure to compare the products available in the marketplace, their prices, and the companies behind them.
It's often overlooked, but buying car insurance to protect your new car isn't just a good idea; it's the law in nearly every state. Even if it's not, most lenders will require you to have insurance on any car they finance. The coverage that's needed will vary by your state and lender.
A guiding principle we follow at U.S. News & World Report is that you can't get a good deal unless you're getting a good car. That's why we've designed our new car reviews to answer the questions shoppers have when they're in the car-buying market. Our new car rankings and reviews are based on the country's top automotive journalists' consensus opinion, blended with quantifiable information about safety, predicted reliability, and other factors. Our used cars rankings add the cost of ownership to the list of factors we include. We don't accept expensive gifts or travel from automakers so that you can be assured of our impartiality. 041b061a72