Buying a used car doesn’t have to be scary if you know the right steps to take to ensure you’re getting a great car and a great deal. If you’re in the market for a deal on used wheels, follow the steps below for a smoother ride!
Step 1: Crunch the numbers
How are you paying for your new car? If you’re paying cash when buying a used car, you already have a car budget in place. If you’re taking out an auto loan, we can help you determine how much you can afford.
Step 2: Create a target list
What make and model car do you want to buy? Check out Consumer Reports for reliability ratings on vehicles from the most recent model years. Aim to narrow your choices to three or four models.
Step 3: Research
Start researching prices and listings for your vehicles of choice. Visit a site like Enterprise Car Sales to get started. You can also find used cars for sale in any of these locations:
- The used-car section of new-car dealerships
- Used-car dealerships
- Used-car retailers
- Websites like Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist where car owners privately sell their vehicles (just be safe and make sure the details of the vehicle check out before purchasing)
When researching cars and listing prices, determine the average asking price for each car. A great site for this is kbb.com.
Next, find out all you can about each vehicle with a vehicle history report from Carfax.com.
Step 4: Call the seller
Contact the seller to verify the information you’ve learned about each car. When using a private-party seller, ask about any possible mechanical issues. If you’re working with a dealership, ask if the car is still in stock and for any information you couldn’t find on your own.
Once you’re certain everything checks out, set up an appointment for a test drive.
Step 5: Test drive
Pay attention to these details during your test-drive:
- Is there sufficient legroom?
- Is the ride smooth?
- How is the acceleration?
- Does the “check engine” light stay on?
- Do you have full visibility?
- Are the brakes working well?
- Do all the lights work?
Next, ask for the vehicle’s service records to determine if it’s current on scheduled maintenance.
Step 6: Have it inspected
When purchasing from a dealer that specializes in used cars, like Enterprise, you may consider skipping this step. However, having your car inspected by a mechanic can save you loads of aggravation and lots of money down the line.
Step 7: Negotiate
Make an opening offer based on the average price for your car and use all the information you’ve learned about your vehicle as bargaining chips. Be firm and you will end up with a fairly priced vehicle.
Step 8: Make it official
If you’re buying your car from a private-party seller, make sure the title and registration are officially transferred to you. If buying from a dealer, give careful thought to any extra protection that may be offered and consider talking to us here at MembersFirst. We can also help you pick the right loan and auto protection.
Finally, read the contract carefully and make sure you have insurance before you drive off the lot. Your membership allows you access to auto insurance discounts through TruStage. Gather your vehicle details and start a quote.
When you’re ready to start the used car-buying process, get pre-approved and let us help make the experience as easy as we can.