Buying a good used car is much easier when you use all the tools available to you, like pricing guides, online listings and vehicle history reports.
Shopping for a used car is like going on a treasure hunt. There are amazing deals out there, and with the emergence of the Internet as a car shopping tool, you have every chance of finding a good deal on a car that meets your needs and fits your budget.
There are plenty of incentives to buy used instead of new: It will save you money on car insurance, registration, taxes and depreciation, which is the loss in a car’s value due to wear and tear over time. It also makes sense because cars have never been more reliable. It’s not unusual for some vehicles to be trouble-free for well over 100,000 miles.
Before we go into detail, here’s an overview of the steps you’ll need to take to buy a used car:
- Set your budget. Decide how much you can spend on a car and how you’re going to pay for it.
- Choose the right car. Pick the right model based on your needs.
- Check reliability and ownership costs. Choose a car that’s less likely to break down — and won’t break the bank.
- Locate good used cars. Search online classifieds or do it the old-fashioned way, by walking the car lot.
- Price the cars. Use pricing guides and find out what experts say the car you’ve chosen is worth.
- Check the vehicle history report. Use the car’s vehicle identification number to see its history.\
- Contact the seller. Save time by calling the seller and asking questions before you take a look.
- Since its in Japan you cannot test drive. Decide if this is the right car for you and if it’s in good shape by reading the history.
Negotiate the best price. Use the information you’ve gathered in your car search to agree to a fair price.
Close the deal. Whether you’re on the car lot or buying from a neighbor, you have to handle the payment and paperwork correctly.
So that’s the basic outline. Now, let’s get started. (If it isn’t a used car you want after all, check our guide on how to buy a new car.)
Set your budget
There are really only two ways for you to buy a car: Pay cash or take out a loan. If you’re paying cash, budgeting is pretty simple. But don’t spend all your savings. Remember to set aside money for registration and insurance — and possible future repairs.