Whether you’re buying from a private seller or a dealer, it’s essential to test drive any car you’re considering. It can help you find out if the vehicle is the right fit for your lifestyle and budget.
It would help if you were prepared to negotiate the price with a dealer or seller. Based on pricing guides, you can bargain confidently by knowing what the car is worth.
Use the Internet
Plenty of online tools make it easy to check out the inventory at dealerships far and wide. You can search by specific categories like compact SUVs or mid-sized sedans or focus on cars available in your area.
Find cars for sale sites allow shoppers to buy vehicles from different websites without going through a dealer salesperson. However, some people prefer the individualized touch of dealing with a dealership, especially regarding test-driving and negotiating.
For this reason, it’s still a good idea to track down the contact information for dealership internet sales departments and email them asking for quotes on cars you’re considering. Just ensure you’re dealing with a legitimate seller, not a scammer. Also, look for online vehicle history reports (if they’re available). Many of these reports detail accidents and service records that may affect the value of a car or its reliability.
When shopping for a used vehicle, you can narrow your search by asking people in your network. They may have heard of a good deal or know a dealer offering a great one.
Once you’ve found cars and trucks for sale that meet your criteria, it’s essential to take the time to inspect them thoroughly. Look for rust or deep scratches, and ensure doors, trunks, and hoods open and close quickly. A musty or moldy smell is also a red flag.
If you’re buying from a private seller, ask them why they’re selling the vehicle and provide maintenance records. You’ll also want to make sure they have the title and any warranties.
Once you’ve researched and found the right car, it’s time to start negotiating prices with the dealership or private seller. Use the book as your guide to help you determine fair market value and make informed pricing decisions.
There are several ways to buy a car; some options may be more appropriate for your situation than others. Many dealerships offer online inventories that allow you to browse vehicles without going in person. It can make the process more convenient and save you time by allowing you to do much of your research on a car from home.
However, visiting a dealership in person can still be beneficial. Many dealers have sales goals they must meet, and they will often be more willing to cut a deal if they need to catch up. This is especially true in December when dealers sprint to reach their month-, quarter-, and year-end sales quotas.
Another benefit of visiting a dealer is that they can provide information about the vehicle and its history, including accidents and repairs. It can help you make a more informed decision and avoid paying for unnecessary add-ons.
Visit Private Sellers
Once you’ve researched and made a list of “must-haves,” consider searching listings websites or third-party seller sites that offer Carfax vehicle history reports as part of the listing. This information can help you negotiate a better price or deter dishonest sellers who might try to charge too much.
Ask the seller to bring the vehicle title and a current registration that shows their name as the legal owner (some states require odometer disclosure statements). If they’re reluctant to do so, be suspicious. You can also ask to see the vehicle’s odometer and note whether it’s showing high mileage or signs of tampering.
If the seller still has a loan on the vehicle, you may need to contact their lender to figure out how to close the sale. In some cases, this is a quick process. In others, it may take longer to get the financing arranged. Lastly, make your offer contingent on the vehicle passing a thorough inspection by an independent mechanic.