A Complete Guide About How Does Buying A Used Car Work

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We have simplified the hassle for you because we have gone through painstaking research to compile a comprehensive guide on how does buying a used car works, so we advise you to read to the end of this article.

Everything has a way of doing it, irrespective of what it is. In that manner, you need to understand how buying used car works. But we have written on What To Look For When Buying A Used Car please check it out also.

Since you wouldn’t love to spend a huge budget and end up with a “beautified coffin” in the name of a “car,” here are the things and tips you should know.

First things first, there are certain questions you should ask the car dealer or seller at intervals to validate the authenticity of the car you’re about to buy.

Arguably, you already know that you shouldn’t go alone to buy a used car, but what are the other things you need to know?

Why buy a used car in the first place?

Used cars are obviously cheaper than new cars – you save up a lot of money when you buy used cars and still get good value.

If you are able to digest all the possible tips you could get regarding buying used cars, definitely, you will end up buying the best car for your budget.

Interestingly, we have shared a lot of handy tips for buying used cars on this website, and today, our focus is to elaborate on the steps and processes of buying a used.

How does buying a used car work?

There are quite a lot of ways to answer this question, and we are going to details as many answers as possible.

Similar questions:

  • What do you need to bring along asides the money for buying the car?
  • How do you make the payment?
  • What happens if you buy from a private seller instead of a dealer?
  • Can I go with my “trusted” mechanic?

Keeping all these questions aside, your budget would influence every other step you take towards owning a “new” used car.

That said; what’s your budget? What type of car do you want to buy?

Set up a budget and stick to it

Some people take loans to buy a car, while some others pay in cash. Whichever way, you need to work with a budget.

In order to set a perfect budget, you need to decide on the kind/type of car you want to buy.

This means to say – is the car going to be used for your personal actives (Private Ride) or commercial purposes?

When you have ascertained the purpose of your new ride, which is going to be bought used car, you can start working on a budget.

First things first; research and check for the various models/versions of your chosen car that fit your need.

When you must have learned about the different models, check the price differences – you can go on sites like cars.com or similar sites, and check the possible price tag for your chosen car.

After you have compared prices from different car dealership sites, you can arrive at an average amount as the price for your prospective “new” used car.

Now, you can set up a budget based on the average price you’ve derived from your research.

You can create the budget from your personal finance or apply for a car loan. With your budget ready, next is to hit a car dealership and pay for the used car.

However, before going to buy the car, irrespective of the research you may have carried out about the car, here are additional tips on buying a used car.

What do you need to bring along asides the money for buying the car?

Except for if the car seller or dealer specified it is “Cash Only,” there’s apparently no need to carry a huge sum of money to the car lot.

Also, asides from the monetary aspect, you may have to go with some basic tools for checking a car – most especially if you’re buying from a private seller.

There are some smart, portable devices that can be used to diagnose a car – although most car dealerships have these techs and also have printed test results for the cars on their lot.

At the consent of the seller/dealer, you can check the car using the car tech device you brought along. This will help to validate some information about the used car.

Asides money and probably a car tech device (or maybe a mechanic) to check the used car, there’s aptly no other thing to bring along. You may have bought the car, here is a Detailed Step-by-Step What To Do After Buying A Used Car

Thorough inspection

You should understand that old “used” cars tend to have one or more minor/fatal spoils.

Thus, you need to thoroughly inspect them before making the payment to purchase them.

car inspection
car inspection

This thorough check MUST be done irrespective of the person or franchise selling the car.

In fact, whether old or not, used or new, you should carefully scrutinize and inspect any car you’re going to buy.

Most car problems are not really visible to the eye – you can only notice them when you drive the car; thus, while inspecting a car, also ask for a test drive.

Take your time to look at the tires, bumper, fender, glasses, mirrors, lights, interior upholstery, dashboard members, hand brake flexibility, AC, door handles, the car lock system, and every other thing you think to check.

Also, do not forget to get the vehicle history report for the used car – this report is very necessary as it contains deep insights regarding how the car was used by its previous owner.

A vehicle history report is checked using the car’s VIN – the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number), a.k.a. Chassis number is a 17-digit number engraved in a specific area on the car’s body, usually on either of the front doors. You can get a used car’s history report using Carfax or AutoCheck.

Another important thing to inspect is the car’s tire threads; if the threads are worn out, that should remove some cents from the car’s price as you’d need to replace the tires.

When you’re done inspecting the used car, you can request to see the “title document” or document that shows the vehicle’s previous owner(s).

Read the odometer, validate the title status, know the previous owners.

These identified aspects should be validated when buying a used car. First, you need to read the odometer to obtain the mileage of the used car.

Nevertheless, you can see the mileage reading from the vehicle history report, but it is important that you take the reading from the car’s odometer.

Read the odometer, validate the title status
Read the odometer, validate the title status
photo credit: wikihow.com

If the readings don’t commensurate, and the seller or dealer doesn’t give a valid reason for that, you should walk away – that’s an obvious red flag.

On the other hand, if the readings are the same, it means the car hasn’t been manipulated.

Next is the title status – also, this report (title status) is available in the vehicle’s history report, if you check with Carfax or AutoCheck.

When inspecting the title, make sure to observe branded titles or inter-state titles. You may see titles such as junk, police use, rebuilt, taxi, flood damage, etc.

However, you should know that branded titles are a red flag – don’t push on to buy a used car that shows branded titles.

If all these things seem confusing to you, then you should go with someone who understands the processes of buying a used car.

Furthermore, a seller may tell you that he’s selling the “used” car at a high price because it has been used by just one person, which means there has been just one previous owner of the car.

If the car has had several owners, it will show on the history report. Make your decisions from the car’s history report and not what the seller/dealer says – if a car has had several owners (from the history report), but the seller insists it is just one previous owner, you should walk out of the deal. Nevertheless, in some countries, the ownership report may not be accurate.

In summary, ensure that you run the used car’s vehicle history report and stick with the information therein.

The reports contain a whole lot of vital details regarding the used car you’re about to buy. Don’t always trust the dealer’s information.

What happens if you buy from a private seller instead of a dealer?

There are PROs and CONs for buying from either a private seller or dealership.

Starting with private sellers – most of them are the original owners of the car, and they’ve been driving it prior to the time of sale.

Thus, a private seller practically knows every fault of the car, and if he/she is sincere, he/she will detail everything to you.

Also, you stand to pay less when you buy from a private seller than dealerships.

However, one of the biggest disadvantages of buying from a private seller is that you don’t get an after-service warranty.

That is to say, once the deal is finalized, there is little or no possibility to bring back the car to the seller when you notice any issue while driving the car home.

In contrast, when you buy from a dealership, you are entitled to some warranty or buyer’s protection terms.

More so, used cars bought from dealerships are literally being serviced by professional mechanics prior to when you buy it off their lot.

Some dealerships also offer car financing and other palliative measures to help support your budget when buying a “used car.”

The interest rate associated with the palliative measures offered by dealerships can be quite higher than normal. Thus, you will end up spending a huge budget for a used car.

In summary, buying from dealerships are basically costly than buying from private sellers. However, you’re protected with certain warranty terms when you buy from dealerships.

In the end, buying from private sellers or dealership depends on who you trust.

If you trust a dealership, that’s good, and if you trust a private seller, that’s also good. Either way, you can always get a great deal.

Can I go with my “trusted” mechanic?

Of course, you can go with a mechanic for car inspection – in fact, this is very necessary if you don’t know much about cars.

Irrespective of whether you’re buying from a dealership or a private seller – you can always go with a mechanic to help you inspect the used car.

trusted mechanic
trusted mechanic

If the seller kicks against bringing your mechanic without giving solid reasons, that’s an obvious red flag.

However, your mechanic must not attempt to fix or tamper with any part of the vehicle during inspecting.

Any issue discovered by the mechanic must be relayed to the seller/dealer, and then you can discuss how to fix the problem.

How do you make the payment?

This will apparently vary from seller to dealer. There are different ways to pay for a car – mostly, you pay via cheques, wire transfers, or any other means indicated by the seller.

Most sellers don’t accept physical cash payment due to security reasons. You can always discuss with the seller or dealer on how you expect to pay for the used car. 

But, before you may the payment, which signifies that the deal has been completed, you need to have test driven the car to ensure the brakes, steering, and other things are in good shape.

Once payment is made, the deal is virtually over, and then you’ll start looking at warranties and after-payment policies. 

It is no crime to haggle with the seller. Plus, the final price for a used car will be dependent on what’s on the various reports you’ve gotten about the car and not the physical appearance (beauty).

Finally, all paper works should be appropriately documented – signing the title transfer document and other agreements and/or warranties regarding the used car.

This part is very necessary, and please read through all the documents carefully – ensure that you understand everything that is written down before signing your consent.

Once your signature is down on the papers, you have consented to anything written therein; thus, be sure to understand every word and also ask the seller to elaborate more on the ones that seem unclear.

Thanks for reading this far and we hope you have learn one or two about how does buying a used car works.

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