The Dos and Don’ts When Buying a Used Car




When looking to purchase one of the many used cars in Baltimore, there are a few dos and don’ts that you need to be aware of. The car buying process isn’t black and white. Rather, it’s a vast spectrum of colors, which means many options and possibilities. But, it can be overwhelming for some. That’s why it’s important to take a look at these dos and don’ts when it comes to buying a used car. Arming yourself even with simple tips like these will help you immensely when it comes time to head to the dealership and buy. While most of these tips apply to car buying in general, thoroughly inspecting a used vehicle is much more important that inspecting a new one. You’ll find out why shortly.

Here’s a few basic dos and don’ts that should alleviate some of the stress when buying a new car.


DO Research Vehicles Beforehand


2010 Ford Escape


Thanks to the omnipotence of the internet, searching for cars and dealerships has never been easier. Simply punch in the name of a car or dealership in Google’s search bar, and watch as thousands of results come up. Yes, it can be used for something other than looking at cats and puppies.

While learning about the dealership is important, your first step is to look at the different types of used cars out there, since that will greatly influence the dealership you buy from. Is there a particular brand that you want? Or are you simply looking for a car that has a reliable reputation? Certified pre-owned or non-certified? These are only a few of the questions you need to ask yourself in order to buy a car that best suits your needs.

DON’T buy the first car you see on the lot!

What you don’t want to do in 2016 is show up to a dealership and buy the first car you see without looking at the other cars they have on their lot. Most (if not all) dealerships have their inventory up on their website. That way consumers can look at what they have to offer before making the drive over. Not only is this easier and will save you time, but it will also let you explore a few different options.

Perhaps that used Toyota Corolla you so desperately wanted is all but forgotten when you see a used Chevy Malibu that ends up being a better overall investment. If you don’t look, you’ll never find the best deal. On top of that, carefully considering your options prevents you from making any rash decisions. Showing up to a dealership and telling them you want to buy a used car today (even though you might just be looking) is a good way to get yourself locked into buying something you will end up regretting a day or two later.

At that point, your stuck with the vehicle whether you like it or not.


DO Set a Strict Budget


Good For Building Credit


After you decide what type of car you want, it’s important to set a strict budget. Whether you are buying a used car because you don’t have the money for a new one, or you have more than enough money to buy the entire car lot, doesn’t matter. You need to set aside a certain amount of money you are willing to drop on a vehicle, and then stick to it. That way, you aren’t tempted to “trade-up” to a more flashy looking car that’s three or four grand over what you were initially willing to spend.

Not only does setting a strict price limit help with building financial responsibility, but it will also prevent you from being persuaded by the dealership that the car that’s two or three grand more is the better deal. It is partially a judgement call on your part at that point though. It might be worth your while to buy the more expensive vehicle they are suggesting. But, if you don’t want to spend anymore than the price you set when you left the house, then don’t.

DON’T overspend!

Apart from being a bad idea in the obvious ways, if you overspend on a vehicle you might be spending more than you initially think. This is no fault of the dealerships, you might simply have not realized what else was added to your purchase. First and foremost, a more expensive vehicle means a more expensive interest rate on your car loan, which means that extra two grand will turn into three by the time you’re done paying the car off. Or, it might be a certified pre-owned vehicle, which is a smart deal, but more expensive compared to a non-certified vehicle.

Whatever the reason, it’s rarely a good idea to overspend if you already have a price set before leaving the house. You set it for a reason, after all.


DO Thoroughly Inspect It


2005 Escape Hybrid


It’s of astronomical importance to thoroughly inspect a used vehicle before you even think about buying it. Yes, it looks nice online, and there is less of a chance finding a vehicle with major problems at a dealership than from one posted on Craigslist. But, it’s still imperative that you check and then double check the vehicle for any problems.

After all, everyone makes mistakes. Even the technicians who inspected it could have missed something. You’ll primarily want to check the undercarriage for rust, the trunk for any rot or water, the condition of the cabin, and under the hood for any leaks. Make sure to go on a dry day, that way you know that any wet spots under the car or around the engine indicate a potentially serious issue. Pay close attention during the test drive as well, and ask about any strange noises, feelings, or smells the car creates while driving down the road.

DON’T blindly buy a vehicle!

Don’t ever, under any circumstances, buy a vehicle without at least giving it a once over. If you don’t know what to look for, bring a friend along who does, or take it to a mechanic. If the dealer is hesitant to let you have a mechanic look at it, then walk away.


DO Ask Questions




Make sure to ask any questions that pop into your head. It might be about a small dent or scratch, or it might be about care and maintenance afterwards. Whatever type of question pops into your head, make sure you ask and receive an answer that satisfies you. Those questions are popping into your head for a reason, so it’s important to get answers before you go any further in the process. Even if you have a question about the car when looking at it on the dealership’s website, make sure to look up the number and give them a call.

DON’T be satisfied with what’s presented.

If you aren’t asking questions — especially when buying a used vehicle — then you’re playing with fire. Don’t simply stand there and agree to everything you hear. Not because the dealership is trying to trick you, but because the more information you have about the vehicle and car-buying process, the more prepared and confident you’ll be when it comes time to close the deal.

It’s important to remember these simple dos and don’ts when it comes time to buy that used car: because knowledge is power.