Here at Huffines Chevrolet in Plano, Texas, we understand that new cars certainly have a lot going for them: that new car smell, their flash, and the latest tech. But a good used car can be the best choice you can make for your finances. New cars decline in value so quickly once they’ve been driven off the lot. A car that is only three years old has a high chance of being sold at almost half the price of what it would have cost new.
A used car can also still provide an excellent performance. Not only that, but buying a used car often opens the door for you to purchase a more sensational car for less money. However, you do need to know how to weed out a good used car from a lemon. We’ve created this guide to help you and our other Plano drivers find the perfect used car with minimal risk.
Research a Car’s Market Value
Researching your potential new ride’s value must be the first step you take when buying a used car. There are great tools online, like Edmunds.com and Kelley Blue Book, that can help you discover the value of nearly any car on the market. It’s worth doing a little digging to get an accurate estimate of the value of the vehicle in question. You will first have to get as many details about the car as possible, like the make, model, year, condition, and options that are available for the model you’re interested in.
The price you discover is where you should start in your negotiations. You can also use this value to gauge how motivated the seller of the car is. If the price is higher than value you found, that indicates that the seller isn’t motivated to sell. However, if you find the car you’re looking for at below-market value, it could be that you’ve stumbled upon a steal.
Inspect the Interior
When you’re looking for a good used car you’ll want to pay particular attention to its condition, as that is a major indication of the car’s value. If the car you’re thinking of buying has been well taken care of, the price of the vehicle could very well be quite high. A car that’s been neglected could be worth drastically less. Don’t let the low price tag seduce you, as it could end up costing you a pretty penny in repairs if you do decide to buy it.
When you begin your inspection of the car, you’ll want to make sure that the car is comfortable for you. After all, you could be spending a lot of time in it. Settle into both the front and back seats so you can get a good feel for them and also consider how much seating is available. Next, you’ll want to give your prospective new car a good once-over.
Take a look at the floors, test out the doors, and even check out the ceiling to see if there is evidence of damage. As you test out the seats, take a good sniff. Your nose will be able to tell you if there’s any lingering smells like mildew or cigarette smoke which can be hard to get rid of. If you happen to catch a whiff of burning gas or oil, that could be a sign of some serious engine issues.
Inspect the Exterior
When you get out of the car, pay close attention to the paint job and the bumpers. You’ll want to investigate to see if there are any dents or scratches. You’ll also need to look for any signs that repairs have been made and ask the seller about them. After that, you should inspect the tires and the muffler to see if there any obvious signs of age or wear. Next, the engine will need to be inspected. If the engine is dirty, it can be a sign of neglect and could cost you money down the line.
Take a Test Drive
A test drive isn’t simply about seeing how much you like being behind the wheel of the car you’re interested in. Physically driving the car gives you an opportunity to see how the car operates in real time as well as to investigate its amenities. You should study how well the car meets your needs in addition to how well it functions. You’ll want to turn on the radio to check the quality of the sound system too.
An incredibly important thing to test will be the heating and air conditioning. You’ll also want to keep an eye out to see if any of warning lights are on. If they are, don’t ignore them. You should discuss this with the seller and ask if any maintenance is necessary.
Consider the Car’s Age and Mileage
Paying attention to a vehicle’s age and mileage are very important when buying a used car. A car will usually be driven about 12,000 miles per year. Using this number to guide you will help you realize how important mileage is in deciding a car’s value. A tool like the Kelley Blue Book will consider mileage when it determines the car’s value.
Let’s say there are about 50,000 miles on a four year old car. The car’s value is then based on its age because the mileage is consistent with the expectation of a four year old car. On the other hand, if the car is only four years old and has 75,000 miles on it, the car has a lower value as this mileage is considered excessive. Of course, if the car in question only has 30,000 miles on it, the car will have a higher value.
When you begin the process of buying a used car, you’ll find that it comes with its own set of challenges. No one should overpay for a vehicle or purchase one that results in costing more in repairs down the road. At Huffines Chevrolet, we hope this guide will help you in your search for an excellent used vehicle. If you still have questions about how to find a great used car, give us a call any time. We look forward to helping you find your next favorite ride.
Image via Flickr by Steve Snodgrass