Buying a Used Car? Here Are Some TIPs

Buying a used car represents a significant investment but with a little preparation and a well defined plan, even a first time buyer can shop with confidence. Here are some tips to ensure a successful used car buying experience.

  • Narrow Your Choices.  Consider your wants and your needs.  How will you be using your used car?  Will it be primarily a freeway commuter to work and back?  How much room do you need for passengers or cargo?  Do you have any sports or hobbies that require extra room or special features like 4WD?  Is fuel economy important or are you more interested in high performance?  Do you have a preference for import or domestic brands?  How much do you have to spend?  What body style do you prefer…4-door, 2-door, hatchback, sedan, coupe, SUV, wagon, truck, sports car?  The choices are endless but by narrowing your search down to a few models, you can significantly simplify your search.
  • Know Where to Look.  Whether you buy from a dealer or an individual seller, the Internet has made finding used cars that meet your requirement easier than ever before. Most dealerships have websites listing available used cars that include photos, specifications and prices.  Most used car dealers maintain large inventories that are easily search by make, model, price, etc.  Individual sellers often list their vehicles online at websites such as, or  You may find the car of your dreams in the local grocery store parking lot with a “For Sale” sign taped to the back window but you can expand your reach with just a few clicks of your computer mouse.
  • Protect Your Investment.  Unless you’re a trained automotive expert, invest in a professional used car inspection before you spend your hard-earned cash.  Buying a used car is a smart financial decision.  New cars can lose 20-40% of their value in their first year.  A low mileage, well maintained used car often has time remaining on its original manufacturers warranty and extended warranties are widely available at reasonable prices.  But used cars by their very nature have a history and before you buy you want to make sure your potential purchase is as good as it seems. conducts thousands or car inspections annually. A  150-point comprehensive inspection and test drive priced at a thrifty $149 can reveal undisclosed body work, major component repairs or replacements, fluid leaks, uneven tire wear or other potential problem areas. highly trained mobile inspectors can perform inspections at the sellers home or office with a complete report available online usually within 24 hours after inspection.
  • Don’t Rush Your Decision.  A used car purchase is a major financial decision. Don’t let a salesman rush you with claims that “this car won’t last long” or “you’re not going to find a better deal than this”. People who buy on impulse often later regret their decision.  Comparison shop.  If a deal seems too good to be true, there’s probably a reason.  Sometimes even the announcement that you’re going to have a professional inspection conducted will make the seller more forthcoming about a used car’s history.  By taking your time and knowing what’s available at what price in your area, you will be prepared to make a well-informed buying decision.

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