How to Buy a Used Car
Buying a new car in college can be quite expensive and can put a huge dent in your student budget, but you can save money and invest it wisely later if you buy a used car instead.
Besides buying your future home, buying a car will be one of your biggest financial investments, so you want to make sure that you do your homework before purchasing the first car you like.
If you want to save money and have a great car, here are some important questions you should ask yourself in your used car search:
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How Much Money Am I Willing to Spend?
In order to know how to buy a used car you need to know how much money you have in your personal savings account or student checking account and how much of it you can afford to spend. Don't forget to set aside additional funds for your car checkup, registration and auto insurance.
Did I Research the Car?
You should always research the history of a car using to see how much the car is worth, what previous owners have said about the reliability of the car, what is the best type of make and model, its mileage and more. If you don't do your research or follow a used car buying guide, then you go into the deal very vulnerable.
The best method of research is going online to the Kelley Blue Book website, which reveals the market price of both used and new vehicles. Apparently one out of every three people who buy a used or new car has visited this site, so it is definitely one of the most trusted used car buying guide sources of used car information on the web.
You can also go to the used car section of ConsumerReports.org to find out the best used cars for your price range, as well as consumer ratings on various makes and models.
What Will I Use the Car For?
Are you a commuter student living far from campus or do you live on campus? Do you drive home on the weekends or take long road trips? Do you move a lot of your personal belongings every year? Are you concerned about the environment and want to get an energy efficient green vehicle? You need to ask yourself these questions so you know how to buy a used car with the right gas mileage, size and comfort for your driving needs.
Where Should I Buy the Car?
You need to decide if you will buy the used car from a private owner or a dealership. It's better to buy from a private dealer online or in the Classifieds because the cars are cheaper and don't have additional dealer fees. You should read the Kelley Blue Book's Used Car or Classifieds section to find a used car in your local area, or read the Classifieds section in your local paper.
However, if you do decide to buy from a dealership, make sure that you try to bargain with them about the price because they usually mark up the prices by 15-25%.
Where is the Maintenance Record?
Every vehicle owner or dealership should have a maintenance record of the used car. Ask to see this so you can see what previous damages might have occurred to the car or other malfunctions that could jeopardize the car's future use.
Is the Car Being Sold "As Is" or with a Warranty?
If you purchase a car "as is" then you need to make sure that you are absolutely fine with it because you won't get to blame the owner or dealer if something goes wrong. If you purchase the car with a warranty make sure that you know exactly what the warranty will cover and what remaining costs you will have to pay.
Did I Inspect the Vehicle and Test Drive It?
You should always do a thorough inspection of the vehicle, both inside and outside. If you know about cars then you can do this yourself, but it's always better to take the car to a certified mechanic. They should know just by looking at something whether it is in good condition or not, and they'll give you an idea of repair fees.
Also, test drive the car and check for strange noises or gear malfunctions. See how it drives going on different terrains and roadways.
Cash or Credit?
Once you decide on a car, you need to pay for it. If you're able to pay with cash you should because you won't have to worry about finance charges. If you do pay with a credit card consider how much you will put down, what are the monthly payments, how long you will make payments and what is the percentage rate.
You can also take out a student auto loan to establish your credit history. Student auto loans make purchasing any type of car more easily accessible to students who are on a tight budget. These loans can come from car dealerships themselves, or through private institutions.
Buying a used car is an exciting experience, but it's also one that you have to take very seriously. You don't want to spend on your hard-earned money on a vehicle that is going to break down the second you decide to drive home on the weekend, so if you follow the above steps then you should be happy with your used car purchase.