Buying a used car can be a cost-effective way to get behind the wheel of a quality vehicle. However, getting the best deal at a used car dealership requires savvy negotiation skills and thorough preparation.
This article will provide ten tips to help you navigate the process and secure the best possible deal on your next used car purchase.
1. Do Your Research
Before entering a used car dealership, arm yourself with knowledge: research different car models, their market value, and common issues to look out for. Familiarize yourself with the average price range for the vehicles you want. This knowledge will give you the upper hand when negotiating and prevent you from overpaying.
2. Set a Budget
Determine your budget beforehand and stick to it. Consider the purchase price and additional expenses such as insurance, maintenance, and fuel costs. With a clear budget, you can focus on finding a vehicle that meets your needs without straining your finances.
3. Get Pre-approved for Financing
Obtaining pre-approved financing from your bank or credit union lets you know your purchasing power in advance. It also gives you leverage during negotiations, as you can compare the dealer’s financing offers with your pre-approved loan. This step will help you secure the best interest rates and loan terms.
4. Check Vehicle History
Always request the vehicle history report for any used car you want. This report provides crucial information about the vehicle’s previous ownership, accident history, maintenance records, and title status. Examining the vehicle’s history can help you identify red flags and make an informed decision.
5. Test Drive and Inspect
Never skip the test drive and thorough inspection. Schedule a test drive to assess the vehicle’s performance, handling, and comfort. During the test drive, pay attention to any unusual noises, vibrations, or warning lights. Additionally, inspect the vehicle’s exterior and interior for signs of damage or wear. Have a trusted mechanic perform a comprehensive inspection.
Here are some additional tips for a successful test drive:
- Bring a friend or family member with you: They can help you pay attention to things you might miss and give you an objective opinion of the car.
- Start the test drive in a quiet area: This will allow you to listen for any unusual noises.
- Drive the car in different conditions: This will help you assess how the car handles in different situations.
- Take the car on the highway: This will give you a chance to test the car’s acceleration and top speed.
- Brake hard a few times: This will help you assess the car’s braking performance.
- Turn the steering wheel sharply from side to side: This will help you assess the car’s handling.
6. Negotiate the Price
Feel free to negotiate the price at a used car dealership. With your research and knowledge of the vehicle’s value, make a reasonable offer. Be prepared for counteroffers and be willing to walk away if the price doesn’t meet your expectations. Remember, negotiating is common, and the dealership wants to make a sale.
7. Consider Certified Pre-owned
If you want additional peace of mind, consider purchasing a certified pre-owned (CPO) vehicle. These vehicles have undergone a rigorous inspection and come with extended warranties, assuring their quality and condition. While CPO cars may be slightly more expensive, the added benefits can be worth the investment.
8. Be Wary of Add-ons
Dealerships often try to sell additional add-ons such as extended warranties, fabric protection, or paint sealants. Evaluate these add-ons carefully and consider their value and necessity. Some add-ons may be unnecessary and can significantly increase the overall cost of the vehicle. Focus on negotiating the price of the car itself before discussing any extras.
Here are some tips for evaluating add-ons:
- Do your research: Before you go to the dealership, research the add-ons that are being offered. Find out what they entail, how much they cost, and the benefits.
- Consider your needs: Ask yourself if you need the add-ons being offered. If you don’t need them, don’t buy them.
- Negotiate the price: The sticker price of an add-on is just a starting point. Don’t be afraid to negotiate the price down.
- Read the fine print: Before you sign anything, read the fine print of the add-on agreement. This will help you understand what you’re getting into.
9. Timing Matters
Timing can be vital in getting a better deal at a used car dealership. Towards the end of the month, salespeople may be more willing to negotiate to meet their sales targets. Similarly, shopping during slower seasons or when new models are about to arrive can give you more bargaining power.
10. Trust Your Instincts
Lastly, trust your instincts throughout the entire process. If something feels off or you need to be more comfortable with a dealership or salesperson, consider exploring other options. Buying a used car is a significant investment; you should feel confident in your decision and the people you’re dealing with.
Getting the best deal at used car dealers requires research, preparation, and negotiation skills. By doing your research, setting a budget, getting pre-approved for financing, checking vehicle history, test driving and inspecting, negotiating the price, considering certified pre-owned options, being wary of add-ons, timing your purchase, and trusting your instincts, you can increase your chances of securing an excellent deal on a reliable used car. Happy car shopping!