Everyone remembers their first car as vividly as they remember their first kiss.
Except the car was part of our lives a lot longer.
Though our first cars were memorable, acquiring them was probably not very efficient. With most of us acquiring our first cars in our mid to late teens its safe to say we were probably more interested in showing off then being shown how to make a smart financial decision when it comes to purchasing a used car.
Now you’re thinking about upgrading to and looking at something some little less junk cars and a little more adulty, trying to get past my entry level job cars.
Since you are now older, wiser, and more financially responsible you know that new cars depreciate very quickly and lose a lot of it’s value once driven off the lot.
So, you’ve decided to go with a used car.
We’re here to help you with the top 5 car buying secrets.
Making the Buy – The Big Five
Make a Budget and Stick to It
There isn’t much that can match the freedom of owning your own vehicle. But if you don’t want the car payments and maintenance to become a burden, you need to know how much you are able to spend within the general context of your life. You are going to need to ask yourself this vital question.
How much can I afford to spend on a car?
This is the first piece of information you need to have before starting your car search. You need to sit down and write out a budget and then write down the exact amount you can spend on a new used car.
This is your magic number.
This is your goal both when looking at your first prospects and when you approach car’ salespeople and/or private owners.
Vet Your Potential Car Like You Would a Potential Date
Buying a car is committing to it for better or for worse. Or at least for the next few years. According to AutoTrader, the average car owner owns their car for around 6 years.
It may be not forever, but just like a Tinder date gone wrong it can feel like an eternity it if it turns out to be a bad relationship.
Research is key to finding a reliable partner-in-crime (a.k.a. Batmobile).
Jump onto sites like Kelley Blue Book or the National Auto Dealers Association to get an idea on how much your potential car interest is worth. And though there is nothing wrong with turning junk cars into dream cars, you want to make sure your paying for what you’re getting.
I know, I know. You and your new car are going to go through everything together and so you want to get the car that gives you those magical feelings and looks good.
That’s great until you end up stuck in the middle of the road on a Saturday night with a broken time belt or a failing transmission.
Leave the daydreaming until you’ve seen the facts and vetted your potential car objectively. Go to a potential seller knowing what you need in a car for your lifestyle, budget, and a list of questions.
Measure each car against those standards and the verified background of each car you see.
Take. Your. Time.
You’ll be spending six years with your new car, so you’ll have plenty of time AFTER the sell to make memories.
But for now, stay objective and take it slow.
No Two Used Cars are the Same
Even if you’re going after a specific make and model you’ll need to keep in mind that each used car has its own history and list of owners.
No two used cars are the same, so you’ll need to make sure to ask for a verified history and report of its current condition before making the purchase.
Now just because it might have gone through some tough times and might not be in perfect condition, or even working conditions, like in the case of junk cars, but know the facts and ask for a price accordingly.
Who knows? Maybe you can get a deal lower then your proposed budget.
Make Sure ALL the Cards are on the Table
The most important thing to keep in mind during the entire process is that you, as the buyer, are always in control.
You can ask the salesperson what he or she will be getting out of selling you a particular car and to ask questions until you know what you are getting.
The only way to know what questions to ask and understand what to look for is to follow the prior steps and come armed with information.
Use this information to know each potential car, confidently negotiate to a price within your budget, and drive away to start your happily ever after.
Well, at least until you look this up for your next purchase in a few years.
Until then, happy driving.