You’ve been thinking of getting a new-to-you car for a while now. After all, you’ve been spending more in maintenance and repairs for your current car than what it’s worth.
You start looking around, but you just can’t find a good car in your price range. Do you fork out more money than you planned, or do you continue your search?
This is the dilemma my brother has found himself in. Over the past year, his 1996 Ford Ranger has had an increasing number of problems. He’s at the point where finding a new car is going to be more cost-efficient that repairing his old truck.
But where should he start?
How to Find a Quality Used Car
1. Set your budget
When it comes to car shopping, it’s easy to get out of hand. When you’re fed up with your current vehicle, you start daydreaming about that perfect car that never has any problems, and your imagination can go wild.
Though you might want to spend less than $10,000, without a firm budget, you could end up getting talked into leasing a brand new car.
This is why it’s so important to set your budget and stay firm. You know what you can afford to spend — so don’t be swayed into making a huge purchase you’ll regret.
2. Start looking in advance
Finding a quality used car is no easy feat, so you need to allot yourself plenty of time to do so.
Start looking for your replacement before your current vehicle bites the dust. You’re going to have to look at several cars before you find a great deal, and it could take months. Check Craigslist, car lots, “Buy here pay here” places, and local newspaper listings. You never know where you’ll find that gem.
If you only follow one of these tips, make it this one. Don’t hurry: take it slow and really weigh your options.
3. Research, research, research
Different cars are good for different things.
For example, if you’re looking for good gas mileage and a car that can handle a lot of use, then a Honda or other small car might work. If you live in an area where winters are harsh, you probably need four-wheel drive.
Narrow down your search to specific models or makes, then begin researching the advantages and disadvantages of your picks. This way, you’ll know what to check for before handing over the cash.
4. Get the car looked at
Before you buy, bring someone with you who knows cars. Have them test drive the car and look for any potential problems. You can never be 100% sure you’re getting a good deal, but having the car looked at by a mechanic will greatly increase your chances.
No price is set in stone — and this is especially true when it comes to used cars. Sellers normally put a markup on their listings so they’ll have room to negotiate. When you find a suitable car, haggle on the price.
What are your best tips for finding reliable used cars?