5 Steps to Getting a Good Used Car Deal

March 23rd, 2016 by


Happy Driver


Whether you are looking to purchase a car from the used car dealerships in Albany, NY, or are looking at something from a private seller, it’s important to get a good deal. Why? Because, you are buying a used car. That means something could happen at anytime when driving a used vehicle. Warranties don’t last forever, and if the vehicle gives out in three years, then you want to make sure what you got your money’s worth.

Read through these five steps for getting a good used car deal. Not all dealerships or private sellers are out to get you, but some of them are. Therefore, it’s up to you to do your due diligence in making sure you are paying the right price. 


Step One: Make Sure You’re Financially Prepared



The first step is figuring out how much you can afford and subsequently set a strict price range. Don’t go over this price range, and if you are going to require a loan, check out your different options beforehand. Being financially prepared is more than just having the funds to finance or buy a used car, it’s also a state of mind.

Whether it’s a dealership or private seller, their goal is to get the most money they possibly can from the sale. When you are trying to buy a car from said dealership or private seller, your goal is to get it for as cheap as possible. See how this creates a conundrum? The whole point is to make sure you don’t overspend. You’ve already planned out how much you can afford, and if a dealership or private seller isn’t budging on the price of the car you want, then walk away. Having the ability to walk away from a deal is your best tool; there will always be another deal.

Financially speaking, there are a few things you can do ahead of time. If you plan on outright buying a used car for a certain amount of money, then set that amount aside and don’t touch it or add to it because that’s your set price. If you are looking for financing, you can arrange it in advance. You don’t need to know what type of car you are going to get right now, just that you need X amount of dollars to get a car.

Doing this provides you with many benefits, especially if you are shopping at a dealership. It keeps the negotiations simple, allows you to shop for competitive interest rates ahead of time, removes dependency on dealership financing (if you don’t want it from them), and the most beneficial thing of all: it forces you to stick to your budgeted amount.

Now that you have the right price, it’s time to start looking for a car. It’s unwise to just jump in and buy a car, first you need to figure out what type of car you need.


Step Two: Invest in the Type of Car You Need; Not Want




You need to figure out the type of car that’s best, not what your friends think looks cool, or what your significant other, kids, or dog would enjoy. Ignore the outside forces, and make the right decision for you, or what you know is best for your family, unless “the right car” involves going over your budget. In which case, let your significant other talk some sense into you.

There are a few ways to figure out what car is right for you, but the first obviously has to do with the price range you set. Maybe you make six digits a year, in that case go to town and buy whatever used car you want to beat up. But, for those of us on the five-digit budget, it’s important to look at what will be both a sound and smart investment.

A car from 2015 could be considered used, and it might fit within the budget you set, but it’s going to be more expensive than a 2010 model. The 2010 model might not have the fancy touchscreen and Bose speaker system, but could still be in great condition with low mileage. Therefore, it checks out as both a smart and sound investment.

At this point, it would be smarter to buy a car that’s under your budget, and then set aside the rest for anything that might go wrong with it later down the road.

Also, you need to consider your living conditions. Yes, a 2010 Camaro is an awesome car, and would put a smile on your face every time you drive it. But, what about your family of seven? Is it really wise to grab a muscle car if you live with six other people? No. Nor is it practical to grab a truck and throw a lift on it if you drive an hour or more to work everyday.

The point is, you need to make sure you are getting the right car, financially and practically speaking. If not, your investment just became a waste of money.

Why not shop around a bit? Private sellers put their cars online and dealerships have websites. Now that you’ve got your price range and know the type of car you need, look at some other related options out there.


Step Three: Look Into Other Class-Similar Cars


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Look into other class-similar cars as viable alternatives to your target. For example, you might be looking at a sedan on the high-end of your price range for its family qualities. Instead of just buying that one, look at some other sedans like a Chevy Malibu, Chevy Impala, Honda Accord, etc. These other sedans still perform in a similar manner, and still get you from point A to B, but are more affordable.

This can be a lengthy process, but in the end it’s worth it. You might find out that the sedan you were originally looking at is what you need, or find out that another one had an added feature for the same or even lower price.

The point is, look around before setting your heart on a car.


Step Four: Run a Vehicle History Report


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This is the most important step to buying a used car, and you could pay dearly if you don’t take the time to run a vehicle history report. Go to CarFax and grab a vehicle history report. This report tells you, based on the VIN number of the vehicle, the car’s history. It alerts you to any major repair work that’s been made on it, lists whether it’s been in an accident, how many owners it’s had, and many other important factors. Why are these factors significant? Because, if you buy a car that’s labeled as a “one-owner vehicle” or “never been in an accident” and you find out neither of those are true, then something fishy is going on.

The private seller or dealer isn’t being honest with you, and it’s time to look for another car. While it might not show you everything, this vehicle history report will show you what you need to make an informed decision.


Negotiate and Seal the Deal



This is the fifth and final step to getting a good deal on a used car. Negotiating can save you anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars on the vehicle. First, start with the market price of the car. Explain to the dealer or private seller that you like the vehicle, but refuse to buy it for higher than market price. If they say they can’t let it go for less than the set price, you have two options: walk away and look for another car or decide to keep at it.

Point out anything you noticed in your test drive, any flaws or issues the seller failed to tell you that you noticed. Don’t be unreasonable with your asking price, just explain that you don’t want to buy a vehicle for more than it’s worth, especially a used one.

If the negotiation is successful, you save some money. If not, and there is nothing seriously wrong with the car, then you are still in the price range you set. For you, it’s a win-win situation, and in the end, you took the proper steps to find a good deal on a used car.