Lead On What To Know Before Buying A Used Car

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Purchasing a car whether it is new or used is a good move and shows that you are ready for easier and more convenient locomotion, but as convenient as this is it requires careful planning and much thought.

Used cars are mostly cheap which is why individuals on a budget prefer them since they are unable to afford brand new cars.

We have an article on negotiating while buying a car you will want to check it out.

There are certain things you must know before buying a used car and you certainly want to know what to do before buying a used car.

In this article, we are going to discuss things you have to put into consideration before making the purchase. Please also do check these articles on what to do after buying a used car and when it comes to a used car warranty.

What To Know Before Buying A Used Car

Put Your Bank Account Into Consideration

Purchasing a car whether it is brand new or used is no walk in the park, it goes beyond walking to the mall and getting an item or just picking up your phone to order pizza.

After the car is purchased, unlike any other commodity you have to spend some extra cash on minor repairs or replacement of some parts like tires. Regular maintenance is important for the car.

To make your purchase process smooth and direct, it is recommended that you craft a defined budget and stick with it to ensure you do not get into a financial fix when it is time for unexpected compulsory repairs.

Additionally, some financial institutions and dealerships grant you loans to make your payment process easy.

Have A List Of Targeted Models And Brands

 Some car brands dominate the market more than others because the general public loves them for certain reasons.

Regardless of how many people gravitate towards specific car brands you should not put all your eggs in one basket, have more than one model and brand in mind especially if these models and brands are what you prefer and fit within your budget.

Yes, it is important to watch your budget but try not to list only cheap car brands because the maintenance costs of some of them are not as cheap as their purchase cost and may dent your finances.

Compare The Prices Before Settling For One

The most important factor in buying a used car is how much it costs. Car dealers are very good with negotiations and that is expected because they have been doing the job for years, ensure you do thorough research before approaching them or else they will mop the floor with you.

One strategy that has worked for many used car buyers is checking the cost of the cars they intend to buy in relation to variables like how much damage the car has sustained and how much it has been used.

There are a plethora of websites where you can search for the prices of used cars, check them, and compare prices.

The Profitability Of The Car

If you intend to resell this car sometime in the future then this point must be what you have been waiting for when you saw “what to know before buying a used car” as the topic.

You may want to consider the used vehicle you are purchasing as an investment if you fall under this category.

What this means is that you should focus on purchasing a used car with a fantastic return on investment (ROI).

It is highly recommended that you stick to cars that have higher resale value if you intend to sell the car sometime in the future.

Check The Car’s Mileage

The mileage of a used car is just as important as the price of the car. For the benefit of those who do not know what mileage is, it is the total miles the vehicle has covered by the previous owner (or owners as the case may be).

If you know a thing or two about cars, you should know that mileage is always a deal-breaker when it is time to choose between; year of production, price, and resale value.

So when you want to purchase a used car endeavor to check the mileage of the car.

What Is Considered A Good Mileage For A Used Car?

This is a tricky question because the usage and maintenance of the car may be more vital than the car’s mileage.

It is a good idea to tread cautiously when opting for a car with high mileage because certain engine parts and components are not as durable as others.

In another scenario, if the previous owner of the vehicle has taken care of some issues and kept up with maintenance, then there may be a lot left in the car.

The usage of the car also makes a huge difference. A car that has a mileage of 100,000 miles driven more on highways may be in better condition than a car high-mileage car driven on city roads.

Is A Used Car With Low Mileage Better?

Finding a used car with low mileage is an appealing prospect but it does not always mean they are good.

Low mileage essentially indicates that the vehicle may have gone through less and may last longer as opposed to cars with high mileage.

The twist in this situation is that if a car is not driven often the rubber and plastic parts on the car may get brittle and dry out.

It is a more favorable scenario for the drivetrain when the car is driven frequently.

Buying a car with incredibly low mileage may leave you with a car that needs reconditioning and a lot of repairs which means extra cash.

According to a report, the average annual mileage for a vehicle is 12,000 miles, if one of the cars in your list has a mileage beneath 60,000 after five years, then the vehicle is considered to have low mileage and it is suitable to purchase as long as it checks all the functionality boxes.

Taking a closer look at mileage; If a vehicle was produced eight years ago and this vehicle has a mileage of 60,000 miles five years after its release then you should be able to purchase it.

If the same vehicle has a mileage of over a hundred thousand miles, you may want to stay away from such a vehicle especially if it has not been properly maintained over the years.

Who You Are Buying From

 At this point, you already sure of the car you want to purchase. You already have what to know before buying a used car (most of them at least), now it is time to contact private sellers and dealers with the best offers.

This is the point where you state all your preferences and concerns before making any financial commitment.

It is highly recommended to visit the dealer in the company of a professional mechanic to check out the condition of the car and check if the car is safe.

A Certified Pre-Owned Vehicle Is A Great Choice

It is a wise decision to buy a Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) vehicle because it usually gives the buyer an added quality assurance level.

The Kelley Blue Book states that each vehicle producer has different standards for CPO vehicles.

However, they are usually beneath five years with mileage below 75,000. Typically, the dealer has reconditioned the car and checked all major systems.

Do A VIN Check

This point is the be-all and end-all of what to know before buying a used car because the VIN of a vehicle gives you access to a lot of information.

You can check the VIN decoder chart to ascertain if the VIN information of a used car matches what is in the records and vehicle title. You can find different VIN decoders online.

Vehicle Identification Number
Vehicle Identification Number
Photo credit: driving-tests.org

With the VIN, you can also know if any recalls have been made on the vehicle.

A Vehicle can be looked up by VIN on the safety issues and recalls page on the NHTSA’s to ascertain if any repairs need to be made on the because of a safety recall.

Do not forget that an older vehicle may not have any information. You may not find some international vehicles and brands listed.

Review The Vehicle History Report

With the vehicle history report, you can see ownership history, previous accidents, service points, and title problems.

The history report of a vehicle can be gotten online for a cost after entering the license plate number or the aforementioned VIN.

However, the dealer may be able to provide you the vehicle’s history report when you ask for it.

Inspect The Vehicle

This is one of the most important parts of what to know before buying a used car.

It is not only important; it makes your decision easier. Let us take a look at some of the things you should watch out for.

Things To Watch Out For When Inspecting The Used Car

Inspect The Interior And Exterior Of The Car

Ensure to inspect both the inside and outside of the car. Check the exterior of the car for dents, rusts, and scratches. Small scratches or dings should not bother you, but areas with large damage may be an issue.

It is highly recommended that you check if the body panels of the car are evenly lined up because uneven panels may mean that the car has been previously involved in a collision or accident but not properly repaired.

You should open hoods, trunks, and the doors to see how they move.

You should check inside the hood, doors, and trunks for paint overspray to make sure every part of the car has the same color.

The car may have been repaired and repainted if you notice mismatched paint or overspray.

Inspect the car’s interior by sitting in all the car seats to find abnormal wear and tear.

If there is a musty smell in the car’s upholstery check the floor and carpet for water or signs of leakage.

Do Not Rush Or Let Anyone Rush You

If you want to end up with the best choice when buying a used car, do not rush the process because you cannot wait.

If you want to get what to know before buying a used car, take some time to research and check all the aforementioned before negotiating.

Take The Car For A Spin (Test Drive)

You can tell the condition of a vehicle if you take it for a test drive, it helps you decide whether the car is suitable for you or not.

Before you start the engine, you should turn the key to the accessory position.

Check to see if all the warning lights on the dashboard turn on if all of them do not light up or remain on when the ignition is turned on then there may be an issue.

When the engine is started, it is highly recommended that you listen for clicking and tapping sounds which usually suggests that there is a problem somewhere.

Keep your ears and eyes open during the test drive, try to drive the car on different road types and at different speed types to ensure the transmission shift is smooth.

Ensure to take note of any brake or engine noises and whether every electronic embedded in the vehicle works properly.

Additionally, ensure the brakes are in perfect condition and avoid pulling the vehicle to one side.


Buying a used car is a smart financial move if done right.

The keyword here is “if” because if you do not follow these steps on what to know before buying a used car then you may end up spending more than you bargained for after buying a seemingly cheap car.

If you do not have enough time, ensure to buy your used vehicle from a trusted and reliable dealer who everyone in your location can vouch for.

Additionally, endeavor to dedicate your time to this process to get the best-used car you can find, the alternative of buying from a trusted dealer seems convenient but it is in your best interest to find out all these things yourself.

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