In the Market for a Used Car? What You Need to Know Before You Go
A vehicle is one of the most expensive purchases most Americans will make in their lifetime. Aside from a house, there are fewer items that cost more than a car, truck, or SUV. Reliable transportation is a necessity in the lives of many Americans, which is why buying a used vehicle makes the most sense for the majority of buyers. Buying a used car is often times the most practical way to drive home in the vehicle you want, at the price point you need. If this is the case for you, then before you begin your search for used cars in Baltimore, MD, there are a few things you should know.
Buying a Used Car
Used car dealerships have gotten a bad reputation over the years. While it is true that some used car lots are known for their unsavory business practices, there are plenty of reputable used dealerships out there. Weeding out the bad and recognizing the good dealerships can certainly be done, but it is important that you know what to look for.
Finding a quality used car dealership can be like picking an apple out of a barrel at the store. The most shiny, most round piece of fruit can give off the appearance of perfection, but it isn’t until you take that first bite that you can actually be sure. Don’t wait until you get home with your new car purchase to find out there is a worm inside. Rather, do the due diligence needed to ensure your vehicle is as perfect as it appears to be.
Not sure what to look for, or even where to start? Check out some of the best ways to make certain your used car purchase is protected, and that the dealership you are buying from isn’t a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
- Check Out Online Reviews – If you are considering a dealership to purchase your new-to-you car from, head online to see what others are saying. A well established dealership will have multiple reviews written by previous customers. Dealerrater.com is a great online resource to check out. Don’t immediately brush off a business if they have a few bad reviews, but rather pay attention to how the dealership handled the situation. Look for a response from the manager regarding any negative reviews. If the dealership is responding to these negative reviews, it is a good sign that they care about what they do, and take potential issues seriously. Look at the overall picture – if a dealership has mostly positive feedback with a few issues, it should not be immediately discounted. On the other hand, if a used car lot doesn’t have any online reviews, you should consider looking into other dealerships to buy from.
- Check Out their Online Presence – An established car dealership should have a good online presence. Aside from reviews, check out the actual website of the dealership, and their social media sites. If a used car lot doesn’t have an online presence, it is a good idea to run the other way. Established businesses will have a strong online presence, while those that don’t can easily disappear when things start to go south.
- Visit the Dealership – Once you have weeded through the online side of things and narrowed your search down to a few dealerships, go check the place out in person. Take notice of employees, and whether they seem happy to be there. If you feel comfortable in the building, and are warmly welcomed when you walk through the front door, you are more likely to have a positive car buying experience. Walk through the lobby and showroom, and see if it is clean and well-kept. A business that doesn’t take care of their facility may not be taking care of their inventory, which means your car purchase may end up being one of the bad apples. If you have an overall positive experience from your visit, then keep it on your list for potential places to buy your car.
- Peruse their Inventory – Whether you take a look at their inventory online or in person, see what a dealership has to offer. A small inventory will be limiting, and automatically narrows your used car prospects. If you are looking for a specific vehicle, then this will be crucial to choosing which dealership you purchase from. While checking out inventory in person, take note of how clean each vehicle is. Just because you are buying a used car, doesn’t mean it should appear used.
- Ask About a Warranty – It is important to protect your car purchase, regardless of whether it is new or used. A reputable used car dealership will provide you with a limited warranty that protects your purchase for a set amount of time. Without any sort of protection, a dealership can sell you a poor-performing vehicle, and has no legal obligation to refund your money.
- Ask for a Vehicle History Report – Just as important as making sure your used car comes with a warranty is obtaining a vehicle history report. By law, a dealership is required to show you this report when you ask, prior to purchase. It will detail any collisions or damage the car has suffered over the years, and will also give you insight on how many owners it has previously had. Make sure that the report is free of any major incidences, and that you keep it with your owner’s paperwork if you decide to purchase that car.
Most of All… HAVE FUN
It is imperative that you protect yourself from any potential scams by following the advice outlined above, prior to buying a used car. Taking these extra precautions can mean the difference between purchasing a reliable, quality pre-owned vehicle, and buying a car that completely dies after a month of use.
While these steps can seem tedious, remember that the desired end result is to drive home in a great, reliable car. If you do things right, you will enjoy the process more than expected, and be happy with your purchase. So, remember to HAVE FUN! It is an experience you won’t soon forget.