Although it's very exciting, shopping for a car can be a scary experience. Buying a used car is a great option but the buyer must beware. Follow these tips when shopping for your used car to be prepared and help avoid scams.
Search online ads and the newspaper for cars in your area before you see the dealers. This will make you a much savvier shopper. You will be more aware of what's available, the questions to ask, and reduce the risk of being scammed.
Get pre-approved for an auto loan before shopping for a used car. With financing secured, you'll know how much you can spend to stay within your budget.
CARFAX provides you with the history of a car, given the car's VIN#. Every vehicle has a unique VIN# which may be used to gather information about the vehicle. CARFAX verifies that there was no previous branding of the title, flooding of the car, odometer rollback, salvaged title, or that the car was reported stolen. It is recommended that you get a 30 day Unlimited CARFAX Vehicle History Report. This report allows you to check the VIN# on any number of cars for 30 days. Use the VIN# of your parent's car to run a CARFAX report just to get used to reading the report. When you find used cars you are interested in buying, run the VIN# of each car before making any offers.
Have a mechanic put a car you're interested in buying up on a lift and do an inspection. You'll be able to find out if there is any damage from accidents that may cause you problems or that should be repaired before the car is sold.
When you've thoroughly checked out the car and are ready to make an offer, remember to be a tough negotiator. The seller does not expect to get the asking price, but they want you to think that's the lowest price they can accept. Never let the seller think you HAVE TO HAVE that particular car! You need to make sure the seller believes you will walk away from the deal if it's not what you want. Go to the seller with your CARFAX report on that car. You'll know the value of the car, if the odometer has been reset, or if there was ever an issue with the car's title. Your being prepared will give you an advantage in negotiating the price down.
When buying a used car, it is recommended that you purchase an extended warranty to cover repairs. Warranties are available for used cars as much as 8 years old and up to 60,000 miles. In addition, never sign an "AS IS" agreement when purchasing a used car.