Buying your first car is intimidating. After all, it’s quite a commitment. You’re not only putting down a good amount of money — you’re also, in most cases, committing to regular payments that will become a part of how you budget your lifestyle. For that matter, the car that you buy today will likely be the car that you drive for years to come. Many think that newer is always better. This may be the case in some circumstances, but it is not when it comes to your car. Your car is better pre-owned than brand new. Think about it this way: when a brand new car is sold, it is immediately be subject to what is probably daily use, the natural wear and tear that occurs in the interior, and potential damage. Essentially, a new car begins losing value as soon as it leaves the lot. Used cars are less expensive, perhaps, and can even be upgraded in ways that increase their value. If a car becomes a classic car and has been well-maintained, it can be worth quite a bit in the long term. This is why many choose dealers of pre-owned vehicles over those who sell brand new cars. You should too. But what should you look for when at the used car dealership? And for that matter, what should you do before committing to a car?
1. Keep Age In Mind
As we mentioned before, you want a used car. But you don’t want a car that is over-used, if that makes sense. Used cars for sale are usually not incredibly old. Dealers of pre-owned vehicles know that their customers want cars that will last for years to come, without the need for extensive upgrades and repairs. (Optional upgrades are another issue entirely.) An older car that has, perhaps, not been perfectly maintained will be likely to break down — and older car that has been perfectly maintained will likely be more expensive that a nice car that is just four or five years old. Banks are very aware of issues like this, and therefore often do not give out loans to people who want to buy a car than is over five years old. For that matter, if you want a car that is less than four or five years old, there are some things that you should look out for. Mainly, you should look into whether or not that car is certified pre-owned. Most reliable dealers of pre-owned vehicles will have this kind of information readily available, and you should hesitate if they don’t.
2. Be Ready To Negotiate
It’s estimated that the typical vehicle owner is looking for car that is under $5,000. Maybe this is not exactly your price point — but it’s certainly a popular one. Certainly, you should be aware that in some cases it’s better to spend more on a car, to prevent yourself from paying more on repairs in the long term. But if you’re speaking to dealers of pre-owned vehicles, no matter what your price point, you should expect negotiations. While some cars have a sticker price that is not changing, others come from dealers who are open to haggling. You may find that you can get the price down. Alternatively, you may encounter a dealer who is willing to throw in a “perk” — like a warranty, for example — that makes the price a bit more feasible. Either way, don’t be “married” to a certain price point. But don’t overspend either.
3. Don’t Invest In Appearance Alone
It’s easy to get caught up in the look of a car — or in a flashy manufacturer name. But at the end of the day, what matter is that the car can readily serve your purposes. With that being said, test-drive a car before buying and don’t get hung up on appearance or the specific model of the car. Buy the car that drives well and will perform reliably within your price range.