Tips When Purchasing a Used Car

  • Compare the seller's asking price with the average retail price in a "bluebook" or other guide to car prices found online or at many libraries, banks, and credit unions.
  • Have a mechanic you trust check the car, especially if the car is sold "as is."
  • Consider purchasing a used car from an individual you know and trust. They are more likely than other sellers to charge a lower price and point out any problems with the car.
  • Government surplus agencies are a great source for buying used vehicles. Many surplus vehicles come with accurate, detailed maintenance logs disclosing a complete history of all repairs and services that have been made to the automobiles.  Visit our Surplus Property Vehicles link located to the left under the category of Transportation.
  • Before you shop, know what you want, what your budget is and what the bank's interest rate is on new and used cars. Get pre-approved, if you can.
  • Beware of bait ads that you see on television or in newspapers. A tiny disclaimer will give a stock number. That car will either be gone when you get there or will be a blasé car with no options or options no one wants. Most dealers use this type of advertising.
  • Shop on your time. Negotiate and buy during the last two days of the month and the last two working hours of the dealership.
  • Don't spend any money preparing your car for trade. Swap out new tires, radios and trailer hitches with friends for extra cash. Minimize your losses.
  • Don't go alone; take someone with you.
  • Don't get attached to a car before you buy.
  • Buy used cars from lots connected to new car dealerships. They keep only the best trade-ins.
  • Get new and used car prices online or from the library, bookstore or another dealer, or insist on seeing the dealer's invoice. Remember, the dealer can survive selling his new cars at his invoice.
  • Ask competitive dealers about rebates and incentives before you deal. Keep these rebates out of the negotiations and deduct them from the bottom line.
  • Don't buy a used car from anyone without having it checked out by an independent mechanic.
  • Buy on price -- not payment. Dealers can disguise the real cost of a car by manipulating the down payment, monthly payment and length of the loan.
  • Write down all variances, promises and add-ons on the buyer's order, especially with used cars.
  • When trading, get back the keys to your trade-in, before you start your negotiations, so you can leave at your will.
  • The average annual mileage on a used car is 15,000 miles. Most used cars die beyond 100,000 miles.
  • If a deposit is required, give a maximum of $100. Use cash, if you can, and get a receipt.
  • Do not get caught in the trading allowance trap. Negotiate purchase and trade separately.
  • Preparation (PREP) fees cover the cost of getting your car ready for delivery after it comes off the truck. Destination fees (DOC) cover the cost of delivering the car from manufacturing plant to dealership. These fees are usually not negotiable.
  • Refuse to pay for add-on items like undercoating, fabric and paint protection, or items which should be included with all cars.
  • Find the cost of tag and title from a competitor.
  • Insist that the dealer match or better your bank finance rates. You can always use YOUR bank or credit union.
  • Dealers are not licensed insurance agents. Don't buy credit life or disability insurance. If you think you need it, talk to your personal licensed insurance agent.
  • Beware of extra warranties. All new cars now have a 100 percent bumper-to-bumper warranty included. You can buy a used car warranty after the original warranty runs out, if you still have the car. Most warranties have at least a 50 percent markup and all are negotiable.
  • Leasing is not for everyone. Once you sign, you had better be prepared to keep the car for the full lease period. Remember, lifestyles and incomes can change without warning, for good and bad.
  • Gap insurance will cover the money gap between a totaled car and a replacement car on leases. It is included in most leases. Do not get double-dipped.
  • Get and maintain control through the entire buying experience. Remember, it's your hard-earned money being spent, and you can walk away any time you feel uncomfortable.










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