According to Edmund’s most recent Used Vehicle Market Report, there were 38.3 million transactions involving used vehicles during 2015 – not surprising considering the benefits of buying a pre-owned car. Compared to purchasing a new one, the price tag is lower and you can take advantage of reduced insurance rates. Plus, a used vehicle can last for many miles, and several years, with proper care and maintenance.
However, while buying a used car makes financial sense, you can actually lose in the long run if you act on impulse in making the purchase. Whether you’re looking at private sellers or working with a dealership, it’s necessary to do your homework before taking the leap. You need to arm yourself with knowledge about the vehicle and the process, including executing the proper paperwork to transfer ownership. Here are ten factors to consider before you buy a used car.
10 Factors To Consider Before Buying A Used Car
1. Consider Your Needs
The first step in buying any vehicle is listing what you want and need. You likely have certain requirements for passengers and cargo, so identify how many it should seat and carry. Also, you should make a note of features you would like and those you can’t live without. You might be able to forego a sunroof, but air conditioning may be essential.
2. Establish a Budget
Before you narrow down your used car basics, determine how much you want to spend. Set a price limit for yourself and stick to it, to the point where you’re willing to walk away if a seller or dealer won’t oblige your offer. Include in your budget any additional costs that don’t go to the purchase price, such as an inspection, tires, or small repairs.
3. Look at Financing Options Versus Cash
Once you have a budget in place, you can decide whether you’ll look into financing a used car. You may be able to get a great rate on a loan, but you’ll need to make sure it works with your existing household budget. Cash may be the best route if you can afford the full price.
4. Do Your Research & Check Reviews
If you’re purchasing from a dealer, make sure to research different makes and models that coincide with the needs you noted in Step 1 above. Then, take your short list of potential vehicle types and look into the reviews of others who bought the same car.
5. Narrow Down Your Options
Armed with your short list of makes and models that fit your needs, trim different options based on price, availability, reviews, and other factors. The goal at this point is to narrow things down to just one or two cars that will remain as contenders.
6. Conduct a Carfax Search
Carfax is a service that runs the history of a vehicle to find accidents or other incidents that resulted in damage to the vehicle. It also indicates significant prior repairs or overhauls of the major components. Depending upon what you find in the Carfax report, you may have leverage to negotiate a lower sales price.
7. Go On a Test Drive
All the research in the world doesn’t compare to how it actually feels to operate the vehicle, so make sure to request a test drive. If you can, drive in various different road conditions, so you can see how it handles on the highway versus city driving – or in the rain compared to dry pavement. If you feel uncomfortable about the car, you may want to walk away.
8. Obtain a Car Inspection
You should always obtain the opinion of a knowledgeable technician before moving on to the final stages of purchasing a used car. A mechanic can detect defects or issues and tell you how they may impact the safe operation of the vehicle – and its value. If you don’t have a relationship with a mechanic or getting an official inspection isn’t possible, talk to a trusted family member or friend about conducting an unofficial inspection.
9. Negotiate the Price
By this point, you should have all the information you need to engage in negotiations with the seller on price. You’ve established your needs and done your homework on the car, so you can use these details to support an offer for a lower price.
10. Complete All Purchase Documents
Once you’ve agreed on all the necessary details for purchase of your used car, you need to complete the required documents. You and the seller must transfer ownership via the vehicle’s title, and execute all paperwork that may be required in your state and local jurisdiction. Plus, you may need to sign off on all financing if you obtained a loan to buy the car.
Notaries For Executing Paperwork For A Used Car Purchase
This guide on the top 10 factors to consider when buying a used car should help you through much of the process, but keep in mind that there may be pitfalls when executing the necessary paperwork. The potential for fraud exists any time you’re engaging in a transaction involving sizeable amounts of money: You don’t want to find yourself in trouble if a scam artist takes your money without properly turning over the title – or doesn’t even have proper title to turn over.
The best way to avoid fraud is to use an auto notary public to assist with execution of purchase documents. These notary services significantly reduce the incidence of fraud because they validate identity of the parties and the paperwork as part of the process. The end result is a binding transaction that’s exactly what the buyer and seller intend – and you can even arrange for the convenience of mobile notary services. Trust a notary public service for assistance with executing paperwork for a used car purchase or other important documents.