Tips for Buying a Used Car

Whether you’re an experienced driver looking for an upgrade or a teenager shopping for your first ride, the process of purchasing a used car is thrilling. Excitement builds higher and higher as you browse, as you begin to imagine yourself sliding behind the wheel of every potential match and hitting the open road in your new whip.

Unfortunately, the car-buying process can also be quite stressful. Personal vehicles are a hugely important part of many people’s lives, so it makes sense that you may feel overwhelmed when searching for your next pair of keys. And once you factor in the financial commitment, it’s even easier to understand why buying a used car can be a difficult process to navigate.

The best way to avoid the anxiety associated with buying a used car is to prepare and educate yourself ahead of time. The process can take many unexpected turns, so it’s important to make sure to understand the full breadth of your needs beforehand so you can adapt and find what you are looking for.

In addition to simply making sure you are prepared, there are some other strategies you can use to enhance your overall experience. Here are some used car market tips and words of advice on what to ask when buying a used car.

1. Set Your Budget

One of the first things you should consider when evaluating what to check when buying a used car is how much you’re hoping to spend. Used cars are available across a wide spectrum of price points ranging from cheap options to newer models closer to their original price. Most customers settle somewhere in the middle. Finding out where you want to land is a solid first step to take.

2. Prioritize Your Needs

Everyone’s situation is different, so it’s important to think about what you’re looking for. You will likely view certain features as deal-breakers, while others aren’t as important. Make a mental list (or a physical one) of what you value most in a potential car. That way when you browse, you’ll be able to quickly move past any vehicles that don’t fit the bill.

Most used car websites will also allow you to set parameters and filters to find the best used cars to buy for you. If you’re looking for a family car or something that will frequently haul around several people, you’ll want to look for something with enough space. People that live in cold areas may be interested in remote start and other heated amenities, and outdoorsy folks may want something with off-road capabilities. Several other features like self-driving technology, entertainment options, and navigation systems may be available as well.

Two customers examine the trunk of an SUV in a used car lot

3. Take a Test Drive

Online listings have come a long way over the years, but there’s still no better way to know if a car is for you than by taking it for a spin. Once you identify a vehicle you think you may like, request a test drive to get a more up-close-and-personal look. This will allow you to get a better idea of how you feel behind the wheel while also making sure it’s in good working condition. Make sure everything handles smoothly and ask your salesperson any questions that come up while the car is running. If you think something feels off, you can adjust your plans before making a commitment. If not, you’ll know you’ve found the one.

4. Do Your Research

No matter what price range you’re shopping in, it’s always important to research the history of a pre-owned car. Services like CarFax and AutoCheck are available to give you a full breakdown of a car’s history, including any past accidents, repairs, and other info that is vital to know, especially with older cars. You likely won’t find a used vehicle that’s taken absolutely zero blemishes or bruises over the years, so it’s important to know what you’re dealing with and how it will impact the cost.

One of the most important goals you should have when shopping for a used car is to find one that will provide you with longevity. Look for a vehicle with low mileage, few accidents or repairs, and a strong manufacturer reputation to maximize its value. There may be cheaper or more visually appealing options available, but the cost of continuous car maintenance adds up fast. Buying a used vehicle that will last is a key part of making sure your investment is worth it.

5. Be Thorough

Arguably the most important thing to remember when searching for a used car is that you won’t find one overnight. Very rarely do people show up to a used car lot, see their ideal vehicle, and leave having paid a good price all in one quick trip. Take your time as you research your options and identify which one best matches your needs, even if it takes multiple trips to dealerships or long sessions browsing the web. With an investment as big as this one, it’ll be worth it.

Overall, the best strategy to use when shopping for a used car is to make sure you are informed. From the beginning, make sure you have a clear understanding of what you’re looking for and what things you value most. Then make sure to properly examine, compare, and analyze potential candidates online and in person, as a test drive is the best way to make sure a used car is the one for you. When you’ve settled on a vehicle you like, do your homework and get a full breakdown of its history before settling on it for good. Once everything is in order and the contracts are signed, you’ll be ready to hit the open road.

A salesperson hands over a car key to a customer that just purchased the vehicle

Keep Your Used Car in New Condition with Kennedy Transmission

If things go wrong after you’ve acquired your new ride, you won’t be alone. Kennedy Transmission’s team of master mechanics is ready to help at our Minneapolis garage and our many other auto repair shops in Minnesota. Give us a call or stop in today for all of your automotive maintenance needs!

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