Financing a used car

5 Essential Things to Know When Buying a Used Car

When you’re buying a used car, it’s important to do it the right way. Many drivers choose to buy used cars over new cars in order to save money on their next vehicle. For many drivers, buying used rather than new is a solid financial decision that gives you a top-quality car at a fraction of the price of a brand-new model. 

However, it is important to consider all of the factors that play into buying a used car before you make your purchase. In order to end up with a car that will serve you well for many years, it’s important to ask certain questions and inspect certain things about a used car before you buy it. If you don’t know which questions are the right ones to ask, look no further. If you’re in the market for a new-to-you vehicle model, keep reading to learn 5 things you absolutely should know about a used car before you agree to buy it. 

1. Its History 

Before you buy a used car, it’s important to know where that car actually came from. Who were its previous owners? Is it up to date on its scheduled maintenance services? Has it been involved in any previous accidents? You can find out all of this important information and more from a car’s vehicle history report. 

All you need to get a full vehicle history report on a car is that car’s VIN number. There are several online databases that allow you to download a full vehicle history report for virtually any car, just by running the car’s VIN number. 

2. Its True Value 

Every used car has something called a true market value. The true market value is the real, up-to-date estimated value that tells you how much a car is currently worth on the auto market. 

You can find the true market value of virtually any used car by running its VIN number through one of several online databases. Knowing the true market value of a used car before you buy it gives you the upper hand and the opportunity to haggle and negotiate the price you pay for that car if needed. 

3. How Much It was Driven 

It is important to consider the mileage of a used car before you buy it and weigh that mileage against the car’s age. Most drivers who use their car fairly regularly drive between 12,000 and 13,000 miles per year. That means that a used car that has been driven by previous owners for 5 years should have between 60,000 and 70,000 miles logged on it. 

Cars that have racked up too many miles in too short a period of time tend to have more natural wear and tear, which in turn leads to more maintenance issues that require repairs and part replacements. Ideally, you should try to find a used car that has fewer than 100,000 miles logged on it. Most modern vehicles last for a few hundred thousand miles in good, working condition, so purchasing a used vehicle with fewer than 100,000 sets you up for several good years with your new-to-you model. 

4. The Condition of Its Tires 

Before you buy a used car, inspect its tires carefully to determine their current condition. After all, a used car is worth much less if it is going to need a new full set of tires right away, so it’s important to know the condition of a used car’s tires before you agree to pay a certain amount of money for that car. 

First off, check all four tires of a car and their rims for any rust, dings, or imperfections. Then, examine each tire’s tread. Make sure that the tread of all four tires of a vehicle have been worn down evenly. If one or two tires have tread that is worn down far more than the tread on the rest of the tires, that’s a red flag that the vehicle might be out of alignment. 

It is also a smart idea to measure the tread depth of each tire. Tires in safe, drivable condition have a tread depth that measures 4/32 of an inch or more, whereas tires with a tread depth of less than 4/32 of an inch are not safe for the road and need to be replaced immediately. 

5. Your Financing Options 

Most people don’t have the money to pay in cash for a car up front—even if they’re getting a great deal on a used model. If you’re like most drivers on a budget, you’ll have to finance your car to pay it off over time. 

What to know when financing a car
What to know when financing a car

When you finance a used car, you have multiple options. You can finance the car directly through the car dealership from which you buy it, or you can finance it through a private auto loan. There are pros and cons to both of these financing options, and it is most effective to explore both options and weigh them against each other before coming to a final decision. 

For many drivers, buying a used car is a better financial decision than buying a brand-new car. In order to get the most for your money, use these 5 tips to help guide you in your car-buying process to ensure you end up with a new-to-you car of your dreams that will serve you well for many years.