If you are in the market for a used car, you are certainly not left wanting for options. This is a big purchase, and there is always that underlying fear of getting burned, so a bit of preparation can take you a long way. Here are just a few important points to consider.
Consider Wants and Needs
You want and need a car…end of story right? Not quite. By giving some careful thought to the primary use of the car, what features are most important and what ‘would be nice’ you can put together a good profile of the ideal car for you.
What You Can Afford if You Plan on Making Payments
Whether you plan on getting a bank loan or directly financing your car with the dealer, you want to crunch some numbers to figure out what you can afford. This will keep you from getting carried away in the moment, and driving off the lot with a car you may love, but really can’t afford. Chances are, the excitement will wear off after awhile and you will realize it wasn’t worth it.
So, it might be boring, but bust out some pen and paper, or crack open a word document to see what you have coming in and going out each month. Don’t forget to add in recreational expenses, leaving a cushion for the unexpected and larger periodic payments, like if you pay your car insurance yearly.
This will help you figure out not only what you can afford, but are comfortable spending. There can be a big difference between these two numbers.
One note of caution here: When going to the dealership, do not let the dealer know what you are looking to spend per month—this will take the situation in a whole different direction, and you will likely end up spending much more over the long-run than what you wanted.
So, consider what you would want to spend on a car overall, not just what you can pay per month.
One of the reasons people are at the mercy of dealers is not because they are professional salesmen—though that is a big part of it—but because of a complete lack of knowledge regarding the cars for which they are shopping, and the most basic of negotiating tactics.
Research the types of cars in which you are interested; look at ads in your area to get an idea of what various types of cars are selling for—this will help you determine the true market value.
Did you know you can buy repossessions at SalvageAutosAuction.com and similar sites? You have to do this one with caution however. While you can get some background on the problems a car may have had, you have limited information. This could be a great deal for someone who does it right, has a bit of car know-how and is willing to put a bit of money in to fix some of the minor issues.
A little bit of research can take you a long way.