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9 Things You Should Know Before Buying A Used Car

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Buying a used car can seem appealing, and in some cases, it is the right thing to do. Before you by, however, here are 9 things you should know before you buy that used car.

#1 Vehicle History Report

One thing many people overlook when buying a used car is a Vehicle History Report. I can't stress how important these are. They might not seem so important, especially if buying from a friend or family, but a good one can uncover things that even the previous owner didn't know about.

Contributors: Chris Burdick from Automoblog

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#2 Lower Costs

The cost of getting into a vehicle is one of the major factors in the decision process. Despite some used cars being only a few years older than the newest model, there is a large price gap between new and pre-owned vehicles. Often there will be many fees attached to a new model that escalates the overall price even further that used vehicles don’t have. On top of that, your insurance price will tend to go up if you decide on a new model. Sure that new car smell is great, but it’s up to you to decide if it is really worth spending a great deal more for it.

Contributors: Cody Green from USA Drives

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#3 Depreciation Rate

The value of all cars, both new and used, will depreciate over time – there is just no way around it. Vehicles tend to lose their value month upon month with new cars experiencing a sharp drop the minute it leaves the lot. On the other hand, the value of pre-owned models does not experience such a sudden decrease - it will gradually depreciate.

Contributors: Cody Green from USA Drives

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#4 Wide Selection

Ultimately, most dealerships will carry a larger array of pre-owned vehicles than new models. A wider selection gives you a better chance of finding the car that has exact specifications to meet your needs. If you choose to get a used vehicle, you will never limited to choosing between a handful of brand new cars and end up stuck with something you are unhappy with.

Contributors: Cody Green from USA Drives

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#5 Used Car Loans

Although some people tend to put down the idea of buying used vehicles, there are benefits of financing a used car. The insurance rates on used cars are a lot lower, and they typically have minimal registration fees, which could help a person save over 30 per cent of the money that they would have spent on financing a new car. Due to the reduced cost of used cars, loans are smaller, however the interest rates can be a lot higher. 

From the lenders perspective, the value of a used automobile could go below the value of the loan before it’s fully paid off, and if a person defaulted on their payments, the dealership would have to make up the cost. To make the loan less dangerous for the lender, a lot of the times, a higher interest rate is given to people who choose to finance a used car. Although the interest rates may be high, getting financing for a used car can save you a ton of money in the long haul.

Contributors: Cody Green from USA Drives

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#6 Mechanic Check

During your test-drive, stop by a trusted nearby mechanic for a quick once-over. Β It won't take long if your mechanic knows that you're coming; and if that shop wants your future business, they might do a quick inspection for free.

Always check with CARFAX for a car's accident history before signing any paperwork.

Finally, in states that heavily salt their winter roads, look closely for rust damage. While a bit of surface rust will be inevitable, avoid any cars with excessive amounts of rust -- regardless of the car's mileage or price-tag!)

Contributors: Timothy G. Wiedman from Doane College

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#7 Check vehicle recalls

Before you get a used car, make sure you’re not being sold a recalled model! They really shouldn’t be in a used car lot, but better to be safe and check than sorry.

Contributors: Cory Sarrett from Superior Honda

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#8 Used Car Checklist

When viewing a used vehicle you’re interested in, you should do all of the following:

  • Perform an external walk around of the vehicle, checking for condition of paint, sheet metal, glass, trim and tires. Be sure to ask the seller when the tires were last replaced!
  • Check under the hood, do all the wires and spark plugs appear recent? Are battery terminals clean and tight? You should also look at oil and fluid levels and make sure that belts and hoses are in good condition, not frayed or cracked.
  • Check the interior and condition of the dashboard as well as seats, carpets and mats. Since you’re buying used, some degree of wear is expected, but be on the look out for any areas of extensive wear or damage.
  • Start the car, the engine should start within 2-5 seconds and not make any unusual noises. With the car running, use this opportunity to check exterior lights, windshield wipers and locks. Ensure that the gauges on the dash can all be read normally and appear accurate.
  • During the test drive, be sure to note any discrepancies in handling, accelerating or braking.

Once you’ve gone through this list, any faults you can identify will fall into one of these three categories: a) cosmetic faults you can live with (and are reflected in the price); b) problems which need to be fixed either by the seller or by you shortly after purchase (again, with a negotiated price); and c) issues so major that you walk away from the deal. Do your research, take your time, don’t make hasty decisions, and you will find that pre-owned vehicle that you can enjoy for years to come!

Contributors: Richard Reina from CARiD

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#9 Extended Vehicle Warranty

One thing to look for when buying a used car is whether or not that car is covered by an extended vehicle warranty. In some cases, an extended vehicle warranty transfers with a car to a new owner. This means you'll have extra protection should your new (used) car break down or need repairs. Some warranties include roadside assistance, rental vehicle assistance, repair shop choice, and more. Used cars with a warranty may be slightly more expensive than those without, but you'll have extra peace of mind knowing that repairs and replacements are covered.

Contributors: Mike Jones from autopom 

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