Taking a risk out of used car buying process
be prepared. Do as much research as you can. Read reviews,
consumer reports, ask colleagues and friends, compare options,
gather gas consumption data on the make and model you're
interested in. Try to determine maintenance costs and upkeep,
etc. Your goal should be to narrow your search to one or two
Why? Because if you just enter a dealership without
knowing what you want, chances are more likely than not that you
won't be happy with your purchase. Later you may find out that
it's simply not exactly what you wanted or what you can afford.
Someone I know bought a used BMW wagon for quite a reasonable
price. When he went for servicing, they discovered that the rear
shock absorber was leaking. The price for the part alone was
close to $1000! Finally, he sold his BMW and bought a used Camry
that proved less expensive to maintain.
Another purpose to narrow your choice down to one or two
different models is because when you test-drive a few different
cars of the same model, it will be much easier for you to
compare their condition and pick the best one. Recognizing a
transmission problem during your test drive would be easier to
do if you were to try a few vehicles of the same model instead
of becoming confused by testing out different models.
Second, without a doubt, you should check a
car's history records. This will help you to eliminate half of
the vehicles from your list with potential problems. Vehicles
that have been flooded or restored after serious accidents,
those with rolled back odometers, heavily abused vehicles (e.g.,
ex-rentals), those with outstanding liens, etc., can be
eliminated after simply checking the history record of the
vehicle. In fact, it is not even a good idea to look into a car
until you check its history.
Third, Don't buy based on what you've been told
because it may not always be the truth. Check out the car
yourself very carefully. Ask a knowledgeable person who knows
about cars to help you.
As a final step, bring the car to the mechanic you trust for an
inspection. A word of caution, NEVER give a deposit before the
car is inspected.
Fourth, Be extremely careful when doing the
paperwork. For example, if you buy from a private owner, make
sure there are no registered liens against the vehicle and that
the person who signs the Bill of Sale is the actual owner of the
car. Check with the Vehicle Registration Authorities to make
sure the car has not been stolen.
If buying from a dealer, read the warranty policy and all the
papers including the fine print very carefully. If it's a
"Certified" used car, you'd be wise to check exactly what items
were checked off and approved because sometimes the car might
have a history of an accident in the past, come with a poorly
maintained engine and still be Certifiable. Do not rely on a
salesperson's verbal promises. Whatever is promised, get it in
details in writing. Find out if the remaining original warranty
will be transferred into your name. Different manufacturers have
different warranty policies.