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Used Car Buying Tips - Top 5 Questions and Answers

Be Careful

Some wrecked, stolen, flooded, or totaled cars are rebuilt and resold. There are body shops that are good at reconditioning the wrecked cars. Therefore, you should do your homework beforehand to avoid afflicting a lemon car.

Used Car Buying Tips

When you find yourself in need of buying a used car, many factors inevitably influence your decision. Buying a good, reliable, and remarkable used car has become very tricky, especially if you don't know enough used car buying tips. By researching and collecting as much information as you can about the used car you are considering, you will become an educated buyer who knows how to choose a remarkable used car and who knows how to avoid the most common pitfalls that most the uneducated buyers fall into.

Although there are many benefits of buying used cars, it's also the highest risk because with out educating yourself by researching and collecting as much information and data as you can, you will most likely end up buying a rebuilt or a lemon car that will make you incur expenses for repairs and maintenance for years to come. Therefore, do your homework beforehand to avoid the distress of buying a lemon car.

Here are the main benefits of buying a used car to encourage you to do your best regarding the research before you purchase the used car, so you can increase your chances of getting a remarkable used car without getting ripped off by the unscrupulous people.

  • Educated and skillful buyers can get a remarkable and near-new used car.
  • Used cars have become more reliable than before such as CPO.
  • Buying a reliable and remarkable used car can make you avoid the huge depreciation that afflicts the new car buyers.
  • Rental companies take their cars out of service after one or two years, so you can get a relatively new car that has been well maintained.

There are several places where you can find used cars to buy, such as online websites, CarMax, dealerships, Auctions, and private parties. Bear in mind that the CPO (Certified Pre-owned Cars) are the most expensive used cars.

When you think of buying a used car, several questions might come up to your mind. Therefore the next sections are the top 5 questions along with their respective answers that hopefully will help you get a remarkable used car without overpaying.

Used Car Value

Used cars are mostly appraised based on the following:

  • Condition.
  • Popularity.
  • Mileage on the odometer.
  • KBB value.
  • Perceived reliability.
  • Performance.

How To Choose The Right Used Car?

One of the most confusing things, when you want to buy a used car, is the problem of choosing the right car that fits your needs. Nowadays, the internet has become an indispensable aspect of our modern life as a valuable tool for researching information. Therefore, choosing the right used car is not a problem anymore.

Taking advantage of this technology (the internet) will save you time, money, and stress. As you can imagine, in the old days, people had to go to several used car lots, dealerships, and auctions to research, compare, and finally make the buying decision. Thankfully, the internet exists so you can almost do everything from the comfort of your home.

When choosing the right used car, choose based on the specifics that you need in the used car. Consider the following:

  • How big you want the used car to be.
  • Which type, make, a model that you are inclined to buy, and that is at the same time is affordable.
  • The durability of the used car.
  • Do you need cargo space and/or towing capacity?

To choose the right used car, consider your budget. Take advantage of the Affordability Calculator on to help you determine which used cars are affordable for you.

  • If you have decided on a specific make and model, that's good, but you still have to research for more information about that used car by checking the classifieds of the local newspapers, visiting online used car magazines and websites to check the reliability by checking the safety ratings and crash tests of that specific used car. Do not forget to check consumer reports, Kelly Blue Book values, the affordability calculator on, and used car reviews websites. Doing so, you can get an estimate of the current price and resale value of the used car you are considering.
  • If you didn't make up your mind yet, you can check the classifieds of the local newspapers, T.V or online magazines, and websites. Make sure to visit used car websites that have thousands of listings such as and CarsDirect. By doing so, you will enlarge your insight as to what is available so you can make a list of several used cars that you may be interested in. After that, narrow down your choices of the used cars that are reliable and affordable.

How To Finance The Used Car?

Financing the used car that you are considering depends considerably on your budget and financial condition. Meaning, if you have the capability of buying the used car in cash from your own money, that's good, but make sure that you get a rebate when buying with cash. Pay with a credit card or check. On the other hand, if you cannot afford to buy it with cash, taking a loan to finance the used car will be the solution.

There are many facilities where you can take your loan from such as dealerships, Credit Unions, banks, however there are lenders online as well. It's highly recommended that you take your loan from online lenders such as Up2drive. Keep in mind that Up2drive is going to be helpful for the buyer with good credit so if your credit score is bad, try to fix it first by making it over 680. But, if you want to take a loan with bad credit, other websites can help you, but make sure that you check the trustworthiness of those websites at better business bureau website

Set a budget and use the TMV (True Market Value) and TCO (True Cost to own) on Also, use the affordability calculator to get a clear insight about which used cars you can afford to buy.

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Extended Warranty

If the used car is not covered by the manufacturer's warranty, it's strongly recommended to purchase an extended warranty.

How To Get A Used Car Warranty?

When you buy the used car, make sure that it's one or two years old. Because used cars from1 to 3 years old are still covered by the manufacturer's warranty. Used cars that are sold by the rental companies will be a good choice because these cars have been well maintained and are relatively new.

However, if you have to buy a used car that is older than 3 years, you will need an extended warranty or you will be incurring extra money for repairs in case of something wrong has happened. You can get your extended warranty at CARCHEX or Warranty Direct.

The Importance Of The VIN

  • Never buy a used car without verifying what you are buying by running the Vehicle History Report.
  • Using the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) of the used car, you can get the Vehicle History Report.
  • Make sure that all the VIN plates on the used car are matched. If they are mismatched, do not buy the car.
  • If the VIN is not present or the seller does not want to give it to you before you buy the used car, they are most likely trying to hide something from you. Walk away and do not buy that used car.

How To Inspect The Used Car?

First and for most, you must do 2 things before buying any used car; running a Vehicle History Report and bringing along a certified mechanic.

  1. Vehicle History Report: It's reported that almost a half-million cars are sold with fraudulent odometer readings annually. Also, natural disasters such as Superstorm Sandy damaged over a quarter-million cars. The problem is that many of these cars are rebuilt and brought back to the market. You can imagine how much money the used car buyers lose when buying one of those cars. Here comes the importance of running the Vehicle History Report and you can do so by using the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) of the used car you are considering. You can get that report from CARFAX or AutoCheck.
  2. Certified mechanic: It's strongly recommended to pay for a certified mechanic to check and inspect the used car before buying it, because if you don't do that, you may be afflicted with a lemon car. Therefore, it's always better to pay now for a mechanic to avoid much more expenses in the future.

After you made sure that you run a Vehicle History Report and brought along a certified mechanic, check for the following:

  • Under the hood: Check the engine, engine oil, adjustable cables, transmission fluid, brake fluid, the battery, and the electric circuits. Also, check the rusted areas.
  • Body, glass, and panels: Check the car as a whole from outside to observe any scratches, dents, and dings in the various panels of the car, any ripples in the paint. Also, check for any glass chips, windshield, or windows cracks.
  • Tires and tools: Make sure that all the tires are in good condition. Also, make sure that the important tools are present such as the spare tire, jack, first aid kit.

Do not forget to write down every flaw you find to either cut down on the price of the used car when you negotiate or to leave this car out and look for another car.

How To Test Drive And Negotiate?

Test drive: Whenever you buy a car, whether it's new or used, test drive it first before you decide to buy. Because you may discover problems after test driving it. Needless to say, you must be a veteran who knows exactly how to drive. If you are not, take enough lessons first. You have only some time to test drive the car so you must take advantage of every minute to judge the experience of driving that used car. Also, take the certified mechanic that you have brought along to test drive it in certain roads such as the steep hills, bumpy roads, or the sharp turns to judge the condition of the engine, suspension, and brake.

Here are some tips on test driving:

  • Start test driving the car while the engine is cold.
  • Turn off the radio or the CD player to hear the engine sound. Are there any rattles or squeaks?
  • Return to the point of origin using the same route to check if any residues of leaked oil or other fluids are on the ground.
  • Check the acceleration levels.
  • Check the shifting of the gears.
  • Check the turn signals, options, and all the dashboard buttons.

Negotiate: Before you negotiate the price of the used car, make sure that you have price quotes to let the dealer or the seller know that you are an educated researcher buy so they will most likely not overprice the used car. Bear in mind that the MSRP (Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price) and Invoice Price apply to new cars only.

Here are some tips on what to do before negotiating:

  • Get price quotes from websites such as and CarsDirect.
  • Make a list of several used cars to give yourself a space of choices and after you inspect and test drive them, choose the best one that suits your needs.
  • Be prepared to negotiate with tough dealers or sellers.
  • Write down every flaw you find in the used car to reduce the price.
  • Bear in mind that the purchase price is not all there is to it, but rather there are other expenses such as the insurance, extended warranty is applicable, maintenance and fuel consumption, so it's better to choose a fuel efficiency and near-new used car.

Here are some tips to help you with negotiating:

  • Take all the lists and notes that you have made with you to show them to the dealer or any other seller, so they cannot overprice.
  • There are unscrupulous people out there trying to sell you the lemon cars, so if you find yourself not comfortable with the seller or your brain picked up some subtle clues of fraud, walk away.
  • Stick to the list and the prices that you have gathered and do not be taken for a ride.
  • Avoid buying the unneeded extras from the dealer. You can buy these extras later from other facilities or online at cheap prices.


As you can see, when you want to buy a used car, there are many things you must take into consideration. By doing your research beforehand and by collecting the necessary information about the used car that you are considering, you can save money and you can avoid the lemon cars that flood the market.

I hope that you have found this article is helpful.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2014 Mohamed Mohamed


Jeff M from Newington NH on July 15, 2014:

Good stuff!

Desmond Storment on July 08, 2014:

Buying used car is not difficult but maintaining it afterwards is. So make sure you know all the essential car maintenance tips, that way you won’t have to rush to the mechanic every time something happens to your car. I know a place named where you can learn the auto maintenance tips without paying a penny.

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