5 Things to Know Before Buying a Used Car

The bizarre nexus of events that the Covid pandemic kicked off included, among many other things, a shortage in the computer chip supply that car manufacturers require for production. That, in turn, led to a shortage in the supply of new cars, which prompted a boom in used car sales and a sharp spike in used car prices. While the prices are finally dropping on used cars, there are still some things to know before you buy a used car. Keep reading for five of the most important things.

1. Financing Options

While you should make a point to set a hard cap on what you’ll pay, either in total or monthly, odds are good that you’ll finance at least some of the cost. Many people walk into a dealership expecting that they’ll use whatever financing options the dealership offers. It’s not a bad plan, as you can often get a good deal on the interest rate. It’s not the only option.

Minimally, you should do a little research. Start with your bank or credit union. If you’re a long-term customer, they may have in-house deals for car loans that will benefit you. You can also search online lenders for better deals as well.

2. Proximity

Indeed, big used car sellers will often ship you a vehicle, but that’s not always a benefit. Some states have incredibly stringent regulations about things like emissions, while other states are remarkably lax about them. Having a car shipped halfway across the country just to have it fail a local emissions test isn’t an ideal situation.

At the very least, you should consider local options. Let’s say that you live in Spearfish, SD. You can search “used cars Spearfish, SD” and find local used car dealerships. When you shop locally, there is a very good chance that whatever vehicle you get will pass a local inspection.

3. Vehicle Report

Some dealerships will say that they ran a vehicle report and that it’s all clear, but that’s an extraordinarily easy claim to make. Just because a dealership says that it did it, it doesn’t mean that it did. It also doesn’t mean that they’re accurately relaying what they saw in the report. After all, moving cars off the lot is the only goal for many salespeople.

You should always run your report through a company like CarFax, AutoCheck, VINCheckUp, or similar services. The main thing you’re looking for here is accident history. Accidents in a vehicle’s history can create a lot of problems for you down the road. That isn’t to say you shouldn’t buy a car with an accident history, but you should know about it in advance.

4. Inspection

No dealership will like it, but you should get your vehicle inspected before you buy it. If you get a car through an online service, most will give you a week or so to return it no questions asked. Get an inspection during that week. You can find services that will do mobile inspections for those on-the-lot inspections, but you’ll get more reliable results by taking the car for an inspection at the shop.

5. Test Drive

Taking a car for a test drive is one of those time-honored pieces of car-buying advice for a reason. No matter how great a car looks, there are a lot of things you can only discover by driving it. For example, not every vehicle handles in a way that a driver likes. A sedan handles differently than a jeep, which handles differently than a pickup truck.

While you might think you want a jeep, you might also change your mind after driving one on city streets. By the same token, a test drive gives you a better feel for whether the engine is performing well or the transmission is in a rougher shape than you’d like.

Buying a Used Car and You

Buying a used car is a lot different than it used to be. You have more options, but those options can complicate matters. With that said, there are things you keep in mind while shopping. You have financing options, which can save you money. Buying locally can save you headaches. Always get your vehicle history report and arrange for an inspection before buying. Take the test drive. You might discover you’d like something else better.

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