Used cars can be a great deal, but you’ve got to know how to play the game when you visit your local used car dealership. More often than not, there’s more involved than just wheeling and dealing for a used car, because the salespeople, you can bet, have already done their homework, and are hoping that you haven’t.
The key to successfully buying a used car is patience, knowing what you're looking for, and deciding beforehand how much you're willing to pay. If you go onto a used car lot without knowing what you’re looking for, but rather just to see if there’s anything you like, you could end up at the salesperson’s mercy, and as long as they have a paycheck coming if they sell you that car, you can bet you’ll receive no quarter from them.
Do Your Research
Perhaps the most difficult problem you’ll run into in the process of finding a used car for sale is the research involved with deciding which vehicle you want to purchase. Start by searching online to identify cars you like. Look at pictures of their exterior designs, but also pay attention to the interior features that some models have. Take note of how much the cars cost. A few good websites to check out include Kelly Blue Book, Cars.com, Motortrend, and Edmunds. It’s also a good idea to take a look at the EPA website fueleconomy.gov.
Get Multiple Quotes
Getting quotes for used cars is an easy next step. Take the pricing information you gained in your online research to make an informed estimate of the value of the vehicle. Before you go to the dealership, decide on a price range that you feel comfortable with, and then stick with it. The salesperson will ask you not precisely what payment you’re looking for, but rather for a range, and they’ll tailor what they show you to the high end of that spectrum.
Practically every new car dealership in America has a lot that is exclusively devoted to used cars. Visit dealerships that sell the car you want, and test drive the used models they have available. Compare the dealership prices to those offered through private sale; you'll find used cars advertised in your local newspaper, in local parking lots that are located near major intersections and on Web sites like Craigslist.
When it comes to negotiation, don't back down. Go armed with your research, and know what the used car you want to buy is worth before you talk to someone at a dealership. If a dealership won't meet your price, walk away. There are plenty of other places where you can buy the used car you want for the price you want.
Close the Deal
Once you and the dealer or private seller have agreed on a price, you'll be ready to buy the car. If purchasing from a dealership, they will likely help you arrange for financing, if it is needed. Don't feel obligated to use their services. You can check with local banks or credit unions and compare interest rates.
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