What to Know Before Buying a Used Car

buying a used car

Purchasing a used car can be a daunting task, but we can help! Here’s what you need to know before buying a used car. 

Set a budget

Review your expenses and income to determine how much you can afford to pay toward your car each month. When researching vehicles that fit within your budget, be sure to include costs like insurance, taxes, registration and ongoing maintenance along with the cost of the vehicle. 

Determine your needs and preferences

Next, identify your personal needs and preferences in a used car. Consider the vehicle’s size, engine type, fuel efficiency, features, mileage and age. 

Secure funding

It’s best to get funding lined up for your used car before you start your search. Get a pre-approval for your loan from USF FCU. This will make the actual car-shopping quicker and smoother.

Shop for a car

You’re ready to start car-shopping! Be sure to stick to your budget when looking for a car, and to keep your feature preferences in mind as well.

Next, visit Carfax or AutoCheck, where you can obtain a vehicle history report of the cars in question using the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). This will provide you with information on the car’s title status, accident history, any recurring maintenance issues and more. 

Inspect the car

If you’re familiar with car mechanics, you can inspect the car yourself. Otherwise, consider hiring a professional mechanic to perform the inspection. 

If the inspection shows some issues, you may want to walk away. Alternatively, you can use the findings as leverage to negotiate a lower price.

Take a test drive

This is your opportunity to get a feel for the car’s performance and handling. Pay attention to the car’s acceleration, braking, steering and handling, noise levels and visibility.

Negotiate the price

Do some research on the market value of the car you’re interested in, and consider any imperfections that were identified during the inspection. Then, make an informed offer and be prepared to negotiate for a lower price.

Review the paperwork and obtain insurance

Before finalizing the deal, carefully review the title and ownership papers to verify everything is in order. You’ll need to sign a lot of documents at this time, and ensure that your vehicle is properly insured. 

Finalize the sale

Use the funds secured through your auto loan to pay for the purchase and the car is yours! 

If you’re in the market for a used car, consider an auto loan from USF FCU!

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