It’s easy to fixate on your list of wants when buying a used car. Equally important, however, is knowing what to look out for when shopping for a used vehicle.
Here are some things to avoid when buying a used car.
Focusing Too Much on Monthly Payments
It makes really good sense to take a careful look at the estimated monthly payment of a used car. Getting to see an estimated monthly payment allows you to easily tell if a used car will fit into your overall budget. But there’s more to consider here than just the monthly payment alone.
A low payment can simply be due to the fact a loan is stretched out over a longer period of time, which will actually make it so you end up paying more for the vehicle due to interest. This is particularly important to consider with used cars because loans tend to come with substantial interest rates. Furthermore, if the car is quite old, you might end up having to continue paying a loan even after you’re no longer able to drive the car. This can actually hurt you financially in the long term.
While the calculated monthly payment is definitely something to consider, it’s essential to think about it on a deeper level before pulling the trigger on buying a used car.
Not Test-Driving and Vetting the Vehicle
Many people think it’s ill-advised to buy clothes without trying them on first. You can’t know if something fits right if you haven’t worn it. If we take this same idea and apply it to used cars, it should make perfect sense why you don’t necessarily want to buy one without taking it for a test drive.
When it comes to used cars, you’re never going to be able to have a total guarantee of the quality of the vehicle. When shopping online, the more reliable used car sites are going to have vehicle history reports and vet sellers. However, even if the party selling the car is honest and has good intentions, that doesn’t ensure the car is going to be right for you.
Test-driving a vehicle allows you to do a few important things. First, you’ll get to just get a feel for the car itself. If you’re uncomfortable or don’t like how it drives in a short test period, you’re probably not going to like it for years to come. Additionally, a test drive is when you get to get an idea for the condition of the vehicle. If it’s making weird noises, or there are a bunch of lights popping up on the dashboard, there’s a good chance the vehicle has some issues hidden under the surface.
Thinking You Can Identify All Issues
Following up on the previous point, it’s a major mistake to think you’ll be able to identify all issues with a used car on your own. Unless you’re a mechanic, you’ll want to have one look at any used car before you buy it, even if you trust the seller. There can be many issues hidden under the surface that would never occur to someone who doesn’t see them all the time.
Obsessing Over Insignificant Details
Of course you want to get a used car with all your desired features and paint color. At the same time, these things aren’t going to be as essential as whether the car is mechanically sound. While it’s worth sifting through options to get close to your ideal, the perfect car doesn’t really exist for anyone. Therefore, you should focus first on the big picture things in a used car, such as overall mileage, fuel efficiency, whether it has been in accidents, or if there are impending repairs, rather than minor things like spoilers and heated seats.
Vehicles with Known Problems
One of the major benefits of buying a used car instead of a new one is you can avoid vehicles that ended up having chronic issues due to how they were designed or built. While a few minor defects might not be the end of the world, others are certainly worth avoiding. For instance, vehicles affected by the Volkswagen clean diesel scandal might be worth avoiding, even if they’ve been retrofitted to actually comply with standards. It can often be more complicated and costly to repair used cars that have issues such as this.
Ultimately, you want buying a car to be an exciting experience. While this can and should be the case, you should temper some of the enthusiasm with prudence. Following these tips can help you do just that.