The internet is full of articles about how to buy a used car. But what does the data show? Googling ‘how to buy a used car’ gives you over 17 million results, but most are just clickbait. The truth is that there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for buying any kind of vehicle – new or old. What works for one person might not work for another, and vice versa.

Some general tips apply to all purchases, though: research thoroughly before making an offer; make sure your budget will cover the cost of ownership; know what features you want in advance so you don’t get caught up in impulse buys during negotiations, and take the time to do a test drive by yourself.

1. Research Thoroughly Before Making an Offer

If you are planning to buy a used car, you should first check whether the seller has any outstanding loans or liens against the vehicle. This information can be found by calling the title company or checking with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). If the seller doesn’t disclose this information upfront this could affect your ability to negotiate on price. You may also need to ask if the buyer wants to pay off existing debts as part of the sale. It’s important to note that some sellers won’t tell buyers they have debt on the vehicle until after the deal closes.

Therefore, it is best to shop around for multiple vehicles at once and then focus on which ones meet your requirements and fit into your budget before narrowing down your choices. Once you have narrowed down your choices, contact each seller individually to arrange appointments to view their inventory and discuss your options. Do not forget to bring along someone knowledgeable about cars to assist you during this process.

Buying a used car from a dealership can be a better deal than buying a used car from a third party. Dealers are trained to inspect a vehicle before selling it. They may also offer warranties on their cars. Third-party sellers do not have such expenses. But dealerships often charge more because they have overhead costs.

All in all, researching thoroughly before making an offer is essential to getting the right vehicle at the lowest possible price.

2. Make Sure Your Budget Will Cover the Cost of Ownership

When buying a used car, you should consider the following factors:

  1. Firstly, you should check the overall condition of the vehicle.
  2. Secondly, you should find out whether the car has been repaired.
  3. Thirdly, you should determine whether the car has any major problems.
  4. Fourth, you should find out the history of the car.
  5. Fifth, you should check the price of the car.
  6. Sixth, you should check the mileage of the car.
  7. Finally, you should check the safety features of the car (if applicable).

It is important to know beforehand how much money you will spend on owning the vehicle, including the cost of maintenance, repairs, fuel and taxes. If you see a low mileage vehicle listed online, check with the local dealership to find out whether the car has been serviced regularly. If it has, then you can most likely negotiate a lower price.

As long as you are aware of these potential pitfalls, you will be able to avoid them. Then once you have checked all of the above and are happy with everything, you can proceed to negotiate the final purchase price. Remember that when purchasing a used car, you’re paying upfront for maintenance and repairs. Therefore, you must factor these costs into your overall budget.

3. Know What Features You Want in Advance

Before buying a used car, you should first decide what type of car you want. Asking yourself some of the following questions should help to narrow down your choices:

  • What type of vehicle are you looking for? (e.g – Are you looking for a sedan, SUV, minivan, sports car, truck, van, convertible, etc?)

Then, you should determine what features matter the most to you. For example:

  • Does the car have air conditioning?
  • Does it have a radio/CD player?
  • Does it have powered windows or a sunroof?
  • Are safety issues a top priority?
  • Will you be travelling in it a lot? Is comfort key?
  • How many seats and how much storage space do you require?

These are just a few examples. There are many more questions that you can use to determine whether a particular vehicle is right for you. Once you know what kind of car you want, it is time to find a seller or a dealer that sells cars with those exact features.

You don’t want to buy a car based on impulse, so it is important to do your research before making any purchases.

4. Take the Time to Do a Test Drive by Yourself

Taking a car for a test drive is an opportunity for you to get acquainted with the car before you buy it. You will be able to observe how the engine runs, how the brakes work, how the steering wheel feels, and if there are any problems with the car. Not all sellers or dealerships allow you the opportunity to take the car out for a test drive alone, this can cause unnecessary stress and pressure to buy a car. You may not be able to relax and focus on giving it a thorough inspection. However, doing this is one way to make sure that you are happy with the car before you commit to buying it.

When you do your research about the vehicle before buying it, you should be aware of the history of the car to avoid surprises later. Don’t buy a car without knowing what kind of maintenance has already been performed on it. Ask these kinds of questions during the test drive if you cannot do it alone, if doing it alone, then ask these questions after the test drive to make sure that you understand everything about the car’s service history.

5. Consider Buying from a Dealer That Offers Extended Warranties or Service Contracts

If you are looking to buy a used car, consider purchasing one that has been through a dealership’s warranty program. Extended warranties can be purchased at any time during the life of the vehicle. They cover repairs for a certain period of time after the manufacturer’s warranty expires.

The cost of extended warranties varies by company and model, some companies offer them for free if you purchase a specific amount of coverage, but this may not always be an option when buying a used car.

6. Check for Recalls on Any Vehicle Model

It is very important to check if the used vehicle that you are buying has ever been recalled. Recalls are usually issued by the manufacturer, they are designed to protect consumers from unsafe products. Recalls are also issued when there is a problem with the product. These problems could include defects in the product, safety issues, or quality control issues.

Provided that the vehicle was built within the last five years, most vehicles are required to undergo regular inspections. If a defect is found, the manufacturer will issue a recall notice that states that the affected parts need to be replaced. The manufacturers will notify owners via mail, email, phone calls, etc, depending on their preference. Some people prefer receiving notifications directly, while others like to receive information via mail.

It is best to contact the manufacturer first to find out whether the recall applies to your particular vehicle. Therefore, it is essential to know if the vehicle that you want to buy has had any previous recalls.

7. Be Sure That the Odometer Reading Is Consistent With the Likely Wear and Tear of the Vehicle Age

If the odometer reading is too low, this could be because the car has been driven less than the stated mileage, or the odometer has been tampered with. It may also indicate that the car has been stolen or written off by the insurance company. The only way to know for sure if the odometer has been altered is to check it against the vehicle’s VIN number. This is usually found on one of the posts which sit on either side of the door, forming the vertical portions of the door frame – (the driver’s side doorjamb).

You should always check the odometers of used cars for the reasons mentioned above. But if you see anything suspicious, take a note of what occurred and report it to the proper authority.

You should always check out the paperwork of any used car you are considering buying. There have been many cases where people have been scammed into paying more than they needed to buy a used car. In some cases, the buyer would find out later that the car did NOT match up to its description. Worse yet, there have been cases where the buyer paid more than the car was worth.

8. Make Sure There Are No Major Events in Its History or Liens on Any of the Titles

Before you sign on the dotted lines, perform a quick check to make certain there are no major events on the title or liens on any other property. It is important to this because even though the seller might say everything looks good, he/she can still be hiding something.

For example, some sellers try to hide unpaid taxes or liens on the title. You don’t want to get stuck with an old car full of tax bills. Also, if you plan to finance the purchase, you must ensure that all loans are current.

9. If You’re Buying from a Private Seller

Buying a used car is not easy. You need to make sure that the car is in good condition and that it runs well. You also need to make sure that it is free from any major issues. This is where having a mechanic or someone who knows about cars comes in handy.

A good negotiator will ask questions like:

  • How long have you had this car?
  • Is there any damage?
  • Are there any recalls or other issues with the vehicle?
  • Do you want to sell it now or wait until it has been fixed?

If you do not negotiate well, you risk getting taken advantage of when purchasing a used car. Therefore, it’s best to bring a professional or someone who knows a bit about cars with you who can help you avoid these problems and can take any notes.


To be a successful car buyer, you need to do your research ahead of time and plan for the future. If you’re buying from a used dealer, make sure they offer extended warranties or service contracts so that if any major problems arise after purchase there is some protection on your side – this can help reduce mechanical issues in older cars with high mileage. And don’t forget about recalls! Even if an individual model has been recalled by the manufacturer, it may still have not reached all dealerships yet. Check before making a final decision on which vehicle to buy. We hope these tips will set you up as a savvy car shopper who knows what he/she wants and how to get it at the best possible price!