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There are several ideas to bear in mind before you buy a new vehicle. Here we look at what to know when buying a car and specifically what to check when buying a used car as these often come without the warranties and guarantees of a new automobile. These tips for buying a car will be invaluable to all – car novices or experienced drivers alike.

1. Figure Out Your Financing Options

Before you step foot onto any forecourt, whether it is to buy a new car or buy used cars, it’s always a good idea to take a good long look at your finances. The state that your financial affairs are in will have a huge impact on what you can buy and from where. For instance, you may have been hoping to get a loan or a financing deal, but if you don’t have much of a deposit or the amount you can afford for a monthly payment each month is much lower than required for many new car deals, you may have to look at second-hand deals that are overall often cheaper, but will still require hard cash.

If your finances are in good enough shape, it is then an idea to carry out some market research on the type of loan you can achieve, if you need one at all.

couple buying a new car

2. Take a Survey to Find out Your Credit Score

Most of us are not aware of our creditworthiness until it is too late. Yet knowing our credit score is crucial to being able to improve it so that better value loans or bigger loan amounts are available to us. Having looked at your finances before buying a car, and hopefully taken stock of where improvements can be made, then look at your credit score and see where your past behaviour has let you down – especially if you think your score is at such a level that it inhibits you from buying a new car that you not only want but can actually afford too.

Some surveys will leave an imprint on your credit history, so be wary of those. Instead, look for ones that are invisible and will have no effect at all, but are really just a fact-finding mission for you. Sometimes, simply because we have a very little credit history, we will have a low credit score. Our score can, therefore, be improved, just by taking out a credit card that we spend nothing on, but the fact that you don’t have any missed payments will make you a more attractive credit subject with the result that your overall credit score is vastly improved.

3. Do Your Market Research

The car market is huge these days, there is no denying that. But it still pays to do your own research of it before heading to any old dealership only to be swayed by a salesman’s spiel that is heavily dependent on the model for which he gets the best commission. Plus, knowing your market also helps you haggle as well as ascertain how good a price you are getting for a would-be vehicle.

With the use of the internet, research should not be onerous too. There are countless websites out there that will help you steep yourself in the knowledge of any prospective cars. Websites should not always be taken as gospel with respect to what is printed, but you will definitely find some reputable pages out there where the writers really do know their stuff and have imparted their wisdom, for free, to you.

Plus by searching the internet, you can easily cater to your research for buying the new car or buying the used car that you think you need. We are all different and all have different requirements when it comes to our cars. Some of us have huge families that need space for a lot of kits, others just need a car for a little run around whilst others will be doing huge long motorway trips. These all have huge impacts on the cars that will eventually be suitable for you, so make sure you look into your niche rather than looking for cars at your nearest dealership just for ease.

man doing a market research

4. Look at Cost Comparison Websites as Well as Comparing Prices for Yourself

In addition to your market research on the car you need itself, make sure you include checking up on the cost of that car model from several different places. Look at second-hand deals too as these can often be great value for money, especially if you find a car with very few miles on the clock. It makes buying a used car very attractive.

Dealerships can sometimes offer great deals, however, with or without financing in place, often with a warranty or guarantee. Sometimes they can even offer a price that makes buying an otherwise identical second-hand vehicle a preposterous idea. Remember dealerships do need your business, so don’t always take their first price as set in stone. Many will have a great deal of room for maneuver when it comes to the final bill.

Cost comparison websites can make this step pretty quick and easy as you can often use them simply to search for the model you want, and the year, and it will give you a whole list of prices available in your area or even further afield. The drawback is that you will often be inundated afterward with phone calls or emails from dealerships themselves trying to flog you their deal, but at least you are armed with the knowledge of the pricing structure of the car you want.

5. Know Your Old Car’s Worth

Don’t forget, when you are looking at your finances particularly, that your old car is an asset – however rickety. It’s a good idea to know its worth before you even engage with a salesman at a dealership. Otherwise, they will be likely to offer you a price that is actually far lower than its worth to up their profit margin. By knowing what your car is worth before setting foot into a dealership, means that you are going prepared with all the knowledge you need to make a fully informed decision before making your next car purchase. Haggling with a salesman is much easier when you know when they are spinning the truth or being honest with you.

Again, there are several online platforms that can help you ascertain your car’s net asset value and if it is really low, look at selling the parts perhaps as sometimes they can add up to being worth more than the whole. Some people even buy used cars for their scrap metal value. It is never very much, but if your car is particularly old and you just want to be rid of it easily and quickly, this is often quite a good option to go for.

6. Test Drive Potential Purchases

Always, always ask for a test drive. You may fall in love with a car off the page and think that its specification is exactly what you want, but in reality, it just isn’t designed in a way that you find driving it pleasurable – however much you want to. Plus, by taking a car for a test drive, especially if you look to buy a used car, you are able to discover if the car is a smooth ride that you think will last, or whether it feels its age and is accordingly making squeaks and rattles that make you wonder if it the car will cost you a lot more in maintenance further down the line.

test car drive

7. Look at How Well the Model has Performed in the Past

As part of your market research, one of the top tips for buying a car is to look into just how well that car has been performing according to other users. Again, it could be the case that on paper, the car looks like it should be nothing short of excellent, but the reality could be very different. This could be down to a whole host of reasons, but either way, it will stand you in good stead to know that the car you want will definitely perform the way you want it to when you have finally purchased it. Cars are simply too expensive not to go to this level of market research. For example, some models by reputable brands, are predisposed to break down or have certain faults that are surprising, but it definitely does happen. Therefore, don’t be fooled by the look or the brand of the car and purchase it on specification alone. Look at past performance to ensure that its future performance is nothing short of excellent for you.

For a second-hand car, this is far more specific and you can often do research into how the car has performed in the past and the exact problems it has suffered. Again, it may be a model and a brand that is usually very well respected, but there is always an exception to that rule, and you don’t want to be buying it.

8. Request Any Repair Records if You Want to Buy a Used Car

As well as looking into a car’s history, if you want to buy a used car, you can also request to see its repair records. This is often easily done and sellers will often provide them in the hope that transparency is the best policy – if they withhold information from you, they’re less likely to make a sale.

Again, the internet is a great help at this juncture as there are a plethora of sites where you can look up reliability ratings as well as finding out on internet forums if sellers are trustworthy or not.

9. Ask for a Mechanic’s Advice

At the end of the day, if you are not a mechanic, even the most in-depth of market and internet research won’t help if you do not know how to give the car you want to buy a health check, particularly if you are buying a used car without a warranty. If that is the case, it can be very advantageous to ask a mechanic for his or her advice before you make a final purchase. This may cost you up front for such a service but think of it as a saving in future, especially if the mechanic finds something that is very wrong with the intended vehicle that would have cost you an arm and a leg to fix at some point later. Plus relatively speaking, in relation to the car cost itself, the cost of a mechanic’s know-how for an hour is very little.

Plus, you will know that if the seller refuses for an inspection to be conducted, that they are likely to be hiding an issue with the car so it is best to walk away from any purchase where this is the case.

ask for a mechanic’s advice

10. Know Your Rights

Before buying any car – be it a new or a used car, it is fundamental for you to understand what rights you have should you want to return the car for any reason or if the car breaks down at some point.

Many new cars will come with a warranty or guarantee, and if you are leasing a car, you definitely need to know what you are liable for and what the car company covers. If you want to buy a used car, what insurance do you need and what back up plans do you have in place should the deal fall foul or if the car breaks down beyond repair despite your best research efforts before purchasing it.

By making sure you know as much about your rights as well as the car market itself, you are well placed to make the best, informed decision before making such an expensive purchase. For, after our house, our cars are more often than not our most costly asset – so it pays to be knowledgeable about your model, brand and car history before you park it in front of your house.

Related Post: 10 Tips for Buying a Salvage Car

Sources:

  1. 10 things you need to know before buying a car – USA Today
  2. Car buying 101 – Nationwide

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