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Buying a used car can be the perfect way to get a great bargain, since most cars depreciate fastest during the first year or two. Although there is some risk in buying a used car, you can minimize that risk if you are armed with the right information and a good plan of attack.
While you go to a car dealership to buy a new car, your choices grow when you consider buying a used car. In addition to new car dealers, you can also find great used cars at independent used car dealers, at service stations, and through private owners. What’s the best way to go? Let’s look at the pros and cons of each method.
If you go to a new car dealer, you may spend a little more money, but you are likely to get a late-model vehicle with either the remains of the original factory warranty, or a warranty offered by the dealer. If you are looking for high quality and the least amount of risk possible, a new car dealer is the way to go. But you’ll pay a little extra.
Used car dealers sell a variety of car makes and models in a wide range of prices and conditions. You’ll pay a little less than you would at a new car dealer, and you should exercise some caution. Be sure that the used car dealer you are considering has a good reputation, and ask about what kind of guarantees they offer.
You’ll get the best price if you buy from a private owner, but this option also carries the most risk. A private owner can neglect to tell you about any problems the car has had, and even an honest owner may not know if something is about to break. Once you buy a car from a private owner that’s that. There are no guarantees, unless the car is a late enough model to still be covered by the factory warranty.
When looking at a used car, be sure to ask whether it has ever been in an accident and whether regular service records are available. To make sure that the car hasn’t been in a serious accident you can check out CarFax. an organization that keeps track of crashes, collisions, and whether or not a car has been rebuilt or repaired. If you have the car’s VIN number, all you need to do is enter it, and the information is at your fingertips. It’s also important to examine the car’s title very carefully, especially if you are buying from an individual seller. A title will tell you if a car has been rebuilt, can be classified as junk or salvage, or whether it was repurchased by the manufacturer under state Lemon Laws.
Be sure to take a good look at the car’s exterior and interior, and don’t forget to look carefully under the hood and under the car. Certain things like misaligned panels or mismatched paint can indicate a previous accident. The interior should be free of excessive wear, all hoses under the hood should be supple and not hard and cracked, and there should be no puddles of liquid where the car has been parked.
If the car looks good to you, it’s time to take it to a mechanic. While a thorough diagnostic testing may cost you around $100, it can be well worth it! A mechanic will be able to tell you much more about the overall condition of the car, and can save you from buying a real clunker! Be sure to ask the mechanic to write down his findings, including how much it will cost to fix any problems. If the findings are relatively minor and you are still interested in buying the car, you can often use these findings to negotiate a lower price with the buyer.
Armed with the right information and a good plan of attack, you can buy a great used car at a bargain price. Happy used car shopping!
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