When looking for a used car, there are some important steps that you need to take to ensure you get the best deal. In this article, we’ll give you a step-by-step rundown of what you need to do.
It sounds obvious, but before you even step into a dealership, you need to know what you want, and what you realistically need.
Going in without this in mind leaves you susceptible to making an impulse purchase based on features you may not require, and thus overspending. Be sure of the size of car that suits your needs, and the features that are absolutely essential. Don’t go with your heart on this one.
We can’t overstate how important it is that you stick to your predetermined budget. In the showroom, you may be offered add-ons or alternatives that will boost the salesperson’s commission, but give you very little tangible benefit.
Your budget is your absolute limit.
Check out the market from home. By using a search term such as ‘used cars near me’, you can narrow down the offerings in your area.
Get a feel for the prices you can expect, and empower yourself to turn down offers that seem inflated.
Once you have located a few cars that meet your specifications and are within budget, arrange to view them.
Make sure you go during the day, and in dry weather if possible, so you can see the cars for what they are, without darkness or rain to hide any scrapes or scratches.
During the test drive, look for more than just what the owner or salesperson is telling you. Ask about any warning lights, strange noises, or unusual movements whilst driving.
Check the interior and make sure everything works on the inside. Small issues noticed during the test drive may be indicative of bigger problems further down the line.
If there is nothing to hide, showrooms should be happy for you to involve an independent mechanic prior to purchase.
Whilst you can do a thorough job of checking the interior and getting a feel for the car during a test drive, a qualified mechanic will be able to uncover any potential issues under the hood.
If the car is right but the price is not, don’t be afraid to walk away. Encourage healthy competition between showrooms by mentioning good deals you have found elsewhere.
Even if the spec isn’t exactly the same, the fact that you are shopping around can pique a salesperson’s interest.
Showrooms want to make a sale, so may be lenient on prices if you can build the right kind of rapport.
Try buying at the end of each quarter – late March, June, September, or December – as this is the time when sales figures are analysed, and salespeople are looking to boost their numbers.
Most importantly, enjoy the experience and have a great time on your new wheels!
Owner / Editor of Carwitter – French car fiend, hot hatch lover. Follow @car_witter