For those on the lookout for a used car, especially those who are on the market for the first time, the process can be daunting. Not only do you need to worry about issues around quality, price, and wear and tear, the sheer variety of different makes and models on the market can be overwhelming. While experts predict that more and more automotive business will be moving online in the coming years, many consumers worry about the risks of making such a large purchase over the Internet.
Many buyers, especially first-time buyers, fall back on the security of the tried-and-true, and so established brands have a real advantage. For those whose parents always bought from one of the large North American manufacturers, like Ford, the appeal of the familiar is tangible. But how can you make sure you don’t overpay on your used Ford? You want a car that you can take to work, drive up to the cottage on weekends, and maybe even take on a cross-country road trip, but how do you avoid spending thousands more than you need to? The following can serve as a handy guide to the perplexed.
- Do your research
Buying a car is a big decision, so you shouldn’t rush it. Before you pull out your wallet, make sure you know what a fair rate for the particular brand and make you’re considering is. How old is it? How much would it cost new? How many kilometers have been put on it? Is it going to need extensive repairs in the next five years just to keep it on the road? The last thing you want is to walk away thinking you’ve gotten a deal, just to have it fall apart on you two months into the first winter.
- Don’t be afraid to shop around
Check your options. An Internet advertisement may sound like it’s offering you an unbeatable deal, but try to get a professional opinion as well. Many dealerships and mechanic shops sell large quantities of used cars, so finding out what the going rate at larger, more established companies is will give you a sense for what the general market looks like. Remember, if something is heavily discounted, there is probably a reason. And if a price looks unusually high, that might be a red flag.
- Don’t feel pressured into buying the first car you step into
You wouldn’t agree to rent an apartment just because the landlord showed you around, so you shouldn’t feel that because you took a car out for a spin you are obligated to buy it. Ask the seller questions about what kind of state the car was in when they purchased it, and, especially if it is an older car, try to get a sense for whether a lot of work has gone into fixing it up. Get a second opinion from someone who knows the business, if you can. You’ll never regret taking it slow and getting as much information as you can. But you will almost certainly regret buying a used car with only a couple of years of life left in it.
Buying a car is always a big purchase, but if you take your time and do your research, it doesn’t need to be a stressful one.