back to articles | December 31, 2018 | Dale Peterson

Categories: Buying & Selling Cars Vehicle & Buying Research

Buying a Used Car

Used Car Buying Tips

If you're buying a used car, and dread the thought of dealing with an aggressive used car salesman, read on. There are other ways to buy a used car. Buying a used car doesn't have to be a painful game of cat and mouse.

Tips for Buying a Used Car: Checklist

Follow these tips as a checklist for buying a used car, and your used car purchase will go smoothly. Congratulations on your "new" used car.

- Does the seller have a license, title, and registration for the used car? If not, you can assume the car is stolen.
- Does the the17digit VIN#'s on the door, hood, engine, dashboard all exactly match?
- Did you ask that the mechanic to inspect & check out the used car while he had it up on the lift?
- Did you review the the CARFAX report for evidence of odometer rollback or title branded as junk, flooded, stolen?
- Did you check to see if there is a VIN# on the dashboard, or it has been filed down or altered in any way?
- Did you verify the seller's name on the license matches the name on the used car's title.
- Did the seller refuse to let you take the car to a trusted mechanic for inspection? If so, walk away.
- Did the seller let you drive the used car first to test drive for condition?
- Will the seller back up any of his verbal promises in writing?
- Is the seller the owner of the used car or are they a dealers agent?
- Does the seller have a written bill of sale identifying the used car, VIN#, and stating the title has not been rebuilt?
- Did the seller give you copies of anything you ask for?
- Did you confirm ownership of used car before you proceeded to discuss sales price?
- Did you obtain and run a CARFAX history report on the VIN number for the used car? (obtainable at
- Does the title still show a lien holder with no "Lien Satisfied" stamp on it? If so it means the owner still owes the bank.
- Is the seller's asking price suspiciously low or below market value?
- Does the seller want you to sign a power of attorney, or specifies cash only for the used car?
- Is the seller telling you to pay now, and he'll get you the used car title tomorrow, because it's locked up at the bank?

Where to Buy a Used Car

Surprisingly, when buying a used car, we suggest going to a new car dealership. Nearly all franchised dealers have a used car department that sells vehicles they have taken as trade-ins, bought at fleet auctions or have come back at the end of a lease. These used car departments tend to feature late-model used cars, two or three years old, many of which have just come off lease and are sold with a limited warranty. Many new car dealers don't bother with very old cars or ones that are difficult to sell, so their used cars tend to be more "new". Going to a national used car superstore chain is a good way to find the used car you want to buy. these state by state locations stock huge lots of used cars at no-haggle prices. There are also individual independent dealers that call themselves "superstores". Whether they specialize in low-pressure, one-price selling or want you to bargain the old-fashioned way, their key advantage is the quantity and the variety of their used cars.

Buying from a Used Car Dealer

Independent used-car dealers are apt to handle any and all used cars. Their merchandise can run the gamut from the almost-new to the should-be-scrapped used car. A used car dealer offers the benefits and drawbacks of any other local merchant. If the used car dealer has been around for a long time and has a good reputation, that's a good sign. A local used-car dealer may take the trouble to locate a specific vehicle for you. Traditionally, used car dealers are accustomed to arranging financing for people who don't have much to spend, although you will probably get a better APR if you get a loan online.

When buying from a used car dealer, caution is the watchword. Both price and quality tend to be lower at a used car dealership than at a new car dealership. Used car dealer's repair facilities tend to be less sophisticated, so expect to take your used car elsewhere for major servicing.

Buying a Used Car Online

Buying used cars online opens up a world of possibilities. Locating a used car online is similar to used car classifieds. The major advantage of buying a used car online is your ability to search, sort, and check the used car marketplace without leaving your house. Used cars aren't always cheaper online, but the Web does provide a way to find out what various used cars are selling for in your area. Web resources, such as, go far beyond used car shopping. You can also shop for insurance and financing, get maintenance agreements, warranty contracts, or look up safety information.

Used Car Loans – Know your financing options

It's a great idea to apply for used car loans before you buy a used car. At, you can get up to four used car loan options. Here you get multiple car loan offers direct from lenders who are giving you the lowest APR for car loans available. Better, yes, better APR than a dealership car loan.

Before you buy a used car, know your budget and loan terms. Make sure to give yourself a little bit of wiggle room with you are negotiating the price of the auto. Knowing your budget before you buy a used car can help you stay within your limit.

Know that you can always walk away if the used car dealership starts to play games with you and does not seem to want to help you buy the used car you want at a fair price.

Before you buy a used car be sure to check the Kelley Blue Book for the used car values. If the price on your "new" used car isn't close to or lower than Kelly Blue Book, you're not getting a good deal. Limit your choices to cars with a good history of reliability, and be sure to make a thorough inspection in broad daylight. It's a good idea to have any used car, particularly one bought privately, inspected by a mechanic as well. The problems the mechanic uncovers can be used as bargaining chips should you decide that you still want the car.