[caption id="attachment_3802" align="alignright" width="550"]
This 2015 Toyota Highlander just hit the lot.[/caption]
Buying a used car can be tricky. Whether you’re buying from a dealership, a private seller, or even a friend, here are a few tips to help you navigate the process:
Set your budget-- and stick to it.
As with any big purchase, it’s important to know how much you can spend. Do your research so you know what a decent car will cost, and then set a range for what you can realistically afford and your top spending limits. Don’t forget to include costs like registration and title fees, inspection cost, taxes, and any necessary repairs. When available, compare buying versus financing to see which is the better deal for you.
Get your mechanic under the hood before any cash changes hands.
Before you sign the paperwork or cut a check, have a trusted mechanic examine the vehicle. Ask them to look for any underlying issues and estimate the cost of necessary repairs or replacements that will need to be made soon after purchase. It’s also a good idea to check the vehicle history report and look for any red flags.
Most used car dealerships will be upfront about any services that need to be done; some will even preemptively do them (or at least perform an analysis) knowing that a car sells better when it runs more efficiently-- and when the customer knows exactly what they’re getting.
Take the car for a test drive.
Unless you’re buying a fixer-upper, or a vehicle with known repairs that would make it undrivable, request a test drive. This way you’ll be able to see, hear, and feel problems for the vehicle and, more importantly, you’ll be able to gauge how comfortable you are driving it.
Don’t forget about the paperwork… and the extra fees that come with it.
One of the most common things people forget to include in their budget are the fees that come with buying a car. Once you close the deal, you'll need to get the agreement in writing and complete the necessary paperwork with the DMV as well. Depending on your state and the state in which you bought the car, you'll also need to take care of any taxes and fees on the spot.
You should also use caution if asked to leave a deposit. Federal and state laws give consumers an automatic “cooling off period” for some types of purchases, but car sales are not one of them. That means once you sign a car purchase agreement for a nonrefundable deposit, you could be liable for certain fees even if you back out. And with some dealerships asking for deposits of up to $1,000, or more in some cases, that's a lot of money to risk losing.
The bottom line: Do some homework before you go shopping to find a trustworthy, reputable seller. Familiarize yourself with price points for the models you like and carefully consider your options, so you don’t feel pressured to put money down on the spot. And be sure to carefully read any contracts or agreements before signing, so you know exactly what you’re agreeing to.
V&F Auto Sales has been serving the Western Mass community since 1988. We strive to provide our customers with top quality, affordable vehicle inventory and convenient financing options. View a complete list of our inventory on our website, or visit us at 7 Harding St, Agawam, MA 01001.