Make the right call on a used car

Buying a used car is intimidating. A quick online search can reveal thousands of options, and unlike new cars, no two used cars are the same. While a pair of used vehicles may have the same equipment, the similarities end there due to mileage, use and maintenance. Without a thorough examination of the history and mechanical form of a vehicle, it is difficult to make the right choice. With the average price of a used car floating around $ 19,500, it pays to cover all the bases and take a few extra precautions before you hit your wallet.

Vehicle History Report

Once you’ve found a car that interests you, one of your first steps should be to check its condition with a vehicle history report. These reports, in fact snapshots of a vehicle’s past, can be generated using a vehicle’s VIN number and will reveal a vehicle’s history of recalls, accidents and theft, as well as a plenty of other important details.

“Getting a vehicle history report is an important first step in the used vehicle buying process,” said Dave Nemtuda, senior vice president of Experian Automotive. “It provides a quick and easy view of a vehicle’s past, allows consumers to compare it to other vehicles, and reduces the risk of choosing a vehicle with hidden issues.”

Additionally, services like Experian’s AutoCheck further reduce this risk by providing vehicle buyback protections on qualifying vehicles if certain faults go unreported, such as odometer rollback, issuance of debit cards. rescue or flood damage. Reports can be purchased on an individual basis or for an unlimited number of VIN checks over a period of time, and while they can cost a few dollars up front, the benefits and history they alert you to can be invaluable.

Thorough inspection

In addition to a vehicle history report, you will need a trusted mechanic to inspect the condition of a vehicle. Everything may look neat and trendy, but a good mechanic will be able to spot sloppy repairs and can diagnose the general condition of a vehicle’s transmission, helping you avoid costly repairs in the future. .

“You want to understand exactly which car you’re getting into,” says Eric Widmer, vice president of marketing at Alliance Inspection Management. The company offers mobile vehicle inspection services to potential car buyers and can help take the guesswork out of a used car’s condition.

Inspectors will take photos, check fluids, and examine the car from bumper to bumper, looking for interior and exterior damage such as tears and dents that reduce a car’s value. Most importantly, a vehicle inspector will also look for damage to the chassis, spare parts, dangerous welds, and faulty or missing safety equipment that could put you and your occupants at risk.

“Our biggest concern is that a car will not react as it was designed, if it has already been the victim of an accident,” says Widmer. “The engineering of modern cars is so precise that you want to make sure that if there is any structural damage, it has been properly repaired to original standards.”

Certified used

For buyers who want a little more security on their used car purchase, certified used vehicles are a great option. Certified pre-owned vehicles are late model pre-owned vehicles that have been inspected and reconditioned at a dealership and therefore come with an extended manufacturer warranty.

Buying a Certified Pre-Owned Vehicle (CPO) offers peace of mind knowing that the necessary repairs have been taken care of and that future repairs will be covered during the extended warranty period. Plus, according to the manufacturer’s schedule, these CPO vehicles are typically less than five years old and have less than 80,000 miles to start – a good sign. Plus, purchasing a car that is included in a manufacturer’s CPO program may qualify you for reduced interest rates and other incentives.

However, all of this security comes at a price. The extended warranty, cost of inspection, and all necessary repairs put certified used vehicles at a higher price, sometimes thousands of dollars extra on what is still a used car.

The best value for money

In order to get the most out of your money, experts suggest that the best time to buy a used car is three years old.

“The steepest part of the damping curve has already passed, and most cars are covered by the powertrain warranty between three and six years,” notes Karl Brauer, senior director of analysis at Kelley Blue Book. “You will always be protected against major component failures, assuming the car’s mileage does not exceed the coverage limit.”

Certified pre-owned vehicles can offer even more protection, with many offering up to a seven-year warranty, but again, that comes at a higher price.

Does the vehicle tick all of your boxes?

It may be obvious, but when buying a used car, make sure the vehicle fits your lifestyle and needs. If you plan to tow a trailer, be sure to check the towing rating of the vehicle. If you are traveling long distances, make sure the car’s fuel economy ratings meet your expectations. Vehicle crash reliability and safety ratings should also be factored into your purchasing decision.

Also, don’t forget to take a test drive, and when you do, reproduce normal driving conditions as well as possible, including city and highway speeds. Factor in the comfort of the seat, the steering response, as well as the performance of the suspension, engine and drivetrain, and even the quality of the stereo system and trunk space. Learning the strengths and weaknesses of the car before you buy is the idea of ​​the test drive.

When dealing with a private party on a potential purchase, ask the seller why the vehicle is being sold. You should also make sure the vehicle has passed all state inspection and emissions tests and inquire about previous maintenance records. If you’re not happy with the test drive or the condition of the vehicle, walk away – there are plenty of other used cars on the market and it’s worth shopping around.

To help you with your buying decision, use Kelley Blue Book’s used car valuation tools to find what you can expect to pay for a car at a dealership or private party, to see what the others paid and to read the opinions of the owners as well as KBB. experts. Choosing the right used car isn’t easy, but following the steps outlined above will help you take much of the angst out of the process.

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About Alma Ackerman

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