7 Tips for Buying a Used Car

April 18th, 2019 by

Buying a used car can be challenging at best and at worst, it can be a nightmare. Fear not though, here are 7 tips to guide you through your used car buying process.

Be Sure Of What You Want

When buying a used car, it’s important to think about your needs. For example, a sports car wouldn’t be the best option for taking your kids to soccer practice, right? Take a moment to think about your needs. Are you looking for something that’s light on fuel, or are you looking for something a little more robust that you can 4×4 with? Once you have your needs in mind, you can continue in your journey!

Consider Budget vs. Value

Once you know what you want, you have to set a budget. One thing to keep in mind while you’re in your used car buying process is if you’ll be financing your car or paying it off in full. This will depend on what you have saved and what you’re prepared for. If you have any questions about this, feel free to ask a sales member of the dealership you’re working with. Be sure to check your credit score!

Buy From a Dealer

Used cars can be mysteries, which is why we recommend purchasing from a dealership! The dealership will make sure their vehicles are vetted before putting them on the lot. If there are any warning signs, like water damage, for example, the dealership will have to disclose this up front.

When buying from a private owner, you’re taking a little bit more of a gamble when it comes to the history of the car. Most dealerships offer warranties or trade-in offers as well. Ask your local dealership what they offer!

Important Things to Inspect


Check the vehicle for any visible signs of damage. Are there chips in the paint or dents in the hood? Be sure to take notes of any imperfections. Most used cars have a little wear and tear, but make sure the car is up to your standards and you’re okay with what’s being presented.


When you’re inside the car, be sure to check for things like stains, tears, smells, and anything else that you can see. Check all the buttons too! Does the sunroof work, are you able to adjust your seat, does the radio work? Be diligent and take your time!

On the Test Drive

Test driving a car is an ideal opportunity to investigate any oddities like suspicious sounds or alignment. When test driving a used car, be sure to check the following things:

  • Check the lights. Does everything work properly?
  • Check all the buttons and fixtures to make sure everything opens, beeps and moves properly.
  • Pull over and stop for a minute or two and inspect the spot where you pulled over for any sort of fluid leak. Fluid leaks are a serious red flag.
  • Check the wheel alignment while driving. To do this, let go of the steering wheel and see which way the car starts veering. If the car’s alignment is good, then it should stay pretty straight!
  • Make sure to kick those tires and check the tread on all four tires.

Research the Car’s History

Do thorough research on the car’s history. Make sure you ask these questions when speaking with the sales member or owner of the used car you’re interested in. If you’re interested in getting the full report on the car you’re interested in, ask about their CarFax or VIN history so you can get the full picture. After all, the last thing you want to happen is suddenly breaking down on the side of the road during your commute. There are some things even the greatest set of tools can’t help you fix. Diligence is key to making sure there are no unexpected surprises.

Invite a Friend Along

Buying a car can be stressful, especially a used one! If you need help making the decision, bring a family member or trusted friend with you when viewing the car. They can help you ask questions, review the car, and tell you what it feels like to sit in the back seat while you’re on your test drive! Sometimes two heads or four eyes are better than one.

Think About Maintenance Costs

Before purchasing your “new to you” car, be sure to consider maintenance costs. When was the last time the tires were replaced? Has it had an oil change recently? Is it a luxury brand vehicle? Do your research and make sure to weigh the costs and benefits before you buy. You may be getting a great deal, but if you have to replace the engine in a year, you may want to rethink your choice.

Now that you know what to look for when purchasing a used car, you’ll be prepared to begin your car buying journey! If you’re interested in starting your journey today, make sure to view our selection of used vehicles or give us a call to talk with a member of our sales team. Good luck with your journey!

Posted in Helpful Tips