back to articles | October 09, 2023 | Staci Bailey

Categories: Tips & Insights For Car Buying

Used Car Buying Do's & Don'ts

Buying a used car can be a great way to save money and still get a reliable vehicle. However, if buyers are not careful they can end up inheriting someone else's problem.


Buying a used car can be a great way to save money and still get a reliable vehicle. Used cars hold their value better because the initial depreciation hit has already been taken by the previous owner. However, if buyers are not careful they can end up inheriting someone else's problem.

Follow our list of do's and don'ts to make a wise decision when buying a used car.

Do Set a Realistic Budget

When buying a used car it is essential to consider your financial situation and determine how much you can afford to spend without straining your finances. By setting a realistic budget, you can narrow down your options and focus on finding the best car that fits within your price range. This will help you avoid the temptation of overspending and ensure a wise purchase.

Consider all of the costs of ownership including insurance, repairs, maintenance, and fuel. Parking fees and tolls may also add to the overall cost of owning a car. There will be registration fees and taxes at the time of purchase and financing costs as well. It is important to factor in these additional expenses when determining your budget for a vehicle.

Do Your Research

Use online platforms and resources to search for vehicles within your budget. Research the market prices for different car models with the features you are looking for. Considering other factors that affect pricing such as mileage, age, location, and the condition of the vehicle. Decide what you are willing to compromise on and what is non-negotiable.

Narrow down your search to just a few models and do more thorough research. Look at factors such as features, fuel economy, and average maintenance and repair costs for each model. Research the average price range for each vehicle to ensure that you know how to spot a fair deal.

Do a Thorough Inspection

The process of buying a used car isn't complete without a vehicle inspection. Physically inspect the car's exterior and interior for any signs of damage or wear. Pay attention to issues like rust, leaks, or cracks in the windshield. It's also important to check the condition of the tires and brakes, as well as the functionality of the lights and electronics.

Look for signs of hidden damage such as mismatched paint or panels that don't line up properly. See if there are signs of poor maintenance such as dirty engine oil or a neglected interior. Have a trusted mechanic inspect the car's condition before finalizing the purchase. Taking these precautions will help ensure that you make an informed decision before buying a used car.

Do Negotiate a Fair Price

Know the vehicle's market value and use this knowledge to negotiate a fair deal. Be prepared to negotiate with the seller by pointing out any flaws or issues you have identified during your inspection. Don't be afraid to walk away if the seller is not willing to meet your price or address your concerns. Remember, buying a used car is a financial investment, so it's important to get the best deal possible.

Don't Rush the Process

Buying a used car is a big expense and it's wise to avoid making impulsive decisions. Research and plan your purchase in advance to ensure that you are well-informed and know what you are looking for. Never allow your emotions to influence your decisions when buying a used car as it can cloud your judgment and lead you to overlook important details. By taking your time and not rushing the process, you can feel confident in your decision and avoid any potential regrets down the road.

Don't Overlook the Vehicle's History

The process for buying a used car should include a thorough background check using services like Carfax or AutoCheck. Checking the vehicle's history report can provide valuable information about the car's previous owners, any accidents or damage it may have been involved in, and its maintenance records. Looking at the vehicle's history allows you to verify the accuracy of the information reported by the seller to check their credibility too.

Inspecting the vehicle's history allows you to identify any potential red flags that may affect the car's performance or value. Look for any previous accidents, flood damage, major repairs, or title issues. Verify the accuracy of the mileage and maintenance records as well. Taking the time to thoroughly examine the vehicle's history report can help you make an informed decision and avoid any unforeseen issues with your used car purchase.

Don't Ignore the Seller's Reputation

Before committing to buying a used car, research the reputation of the seller or dealership where you are considering making your purchase. Check online reviews and ratings from previous customers to get an idea of their trustworthiness and reliability. Avoid dealing with sellers who have a history of complaints or negative feedback.

It's important to ensure that the seller has a good track record of honesty and transparency in their transactions. Don't be afraid to ask the seller questions if there is anything that you're unsure about. Remember, a reputable seller will have nothing to hide and will be more likely to provide you with accurate information about the car's condition and history.

Don't Skip the Test Drive

Make sure to conduct a thorough test drive of the car to assess the vehicle's performance, handling, and comfort. Pay attention to any unusual noises, vibrations, or issues with the brakes or steering. Test out the various features and functions of the car to ensure they are in working order. It is also important to test the car in different driving conditions, such as on the highway and in stop-and-go traffic, to see how it handles.

Take your time and assess how comfortable you feel driving the vehicle. Don't forget to check the visibility from all angles and test the air conditioning and heating systems to ensure they are functioning properly. Taking the time to thoroughly test drive the car will help you make an informed decision before purchasing.

Buying a used car is a big investment. If buyers are diligent they can get a great car at a bargain price without sacrificing quality. With a little help from myAutoloan buyers can conveniently secure financing on a used vehicle. With careful consideration and thorough research, buyers can find a reliable used car that meets their needs and budget.