4 Tips for Buying a Used Car

May 19, 2016

Now that Tax Day is behind us, are you looking at purchasing a used vehicle? Many families in Northeast Ohio buy used vehicles in spring and summer as tax returns arrive and teenage children look forward to busy summer schedules and even college. If you have a young driver or even a child heading off to college this fall, your first priority is usually finding a safe, reliable and affordable car for them to drive. Whether you are helping your teen purchase their first vehicle or gifting a used car to your child, here is how you can find the best used vehicles on the market.

Do your research. Decide what kind of make and model you are interested in purchasing and what price range you can afford. Make a list of features the car must have. After your research is done, you will likely  have narrowed down a few makes, models and years. Visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for a history of recalls on the vehicles you are interested in. With all of that information, it’s time to go shopping! Talk to your family, friends and neighbors about their experiences purchasing a used vehicle and use their input to your advantage. Autotrader, eBay, Craig’s List and dealership websites will have used cars to look at.

Ask for a car history and safety report. Once you have found a vehicle you are interested in, ask for a car history report. Record the VIN number of the vehicle and look for the VIN in several different areas of the car. Make sure all the VIN numbers match and use a service like CarFax.com to run a auto check report.Most of the information obtained by CarFax.com and other companies comes from insurance claims. If a vehicle has been in an accident, flood or other incident and was not claimed on insurance, it is likely that auto reporting companies will not have that information. While a vehicle history is good to have, some incidents will never appear on a report because body shops, auto repair shops, dealerships and more are not required to volunteer information on the vehicles they service.

Have the vehicle inspected by a professional auto repair shop. Don’t skip this step! Do a thorough test drive and consider using this time to have the car inspected by an expert auto mechanic. Rad Air provides several used car inspections each month. A trained professional can detect whether a vehicle has been in an accident or flood, has been repaired using improper or poor quality parts or if anything else is amiss with the vehicle. When you buy a used vehicle you are taking on someone else’s problems, so it pays to know what you are purchasing!

Don’t be afraid to negotiate your price. Ask your trustworthy auto professional for tips and information when they give the car an inspection. They may be able to point some things out that can help you negotiate. Whether you are working with someone at a dealership or a private seller, be prepared to walk away if the price is not in your budget and don’t let the seller make you feel rushed. Ask the seller to name their price first and compare that to the research you have done. It pays to have information on similar vehicles that are being sold in the area so you can use this in your negotiating. If you must offer a price, don’t be afraid to offer an amount that is well within your budget even if it is very low.

Buying a used vehicle is 90% research and 10% transaction. By doing your homework and knowing what is available in your market, you can successfully purchase a reliable and safe car. Always have the car inspected by a trustworthy auto repair center like Rad Air so you have a detailed understanding of the vehicle. Let us help you buy a used car for your family!