There’s nothing quite like that new-car smell, but there’s also nothing quite like that used car price. As quickly as new cars begin to lose value, it makes sense that many savvy drivers prefer to purchase vehicles in gently used condition. If a previously owned car is on your shopping list, there are a few things you should know before driving one off the lot. Continue reading to learn what you should look for in your next used vehicle.
Never Skip the Test Drive
You can tell a lot about a vehicle by the way it drives. When you are behind the wheel of a car, you can tell if the alignment is off, see which dashboard lights are activated, and take note of the general condition of the interior. You can also listen for road noise and take note of how the vehicle brakes and responds to sharp turns. At the end of your test drive, let the car run for a few seconds and then get out to inspect for leaking fluids. Oil, transmission fluid, and anti-freeze leaks could be a red flag.
Look Under the Hood
Take a look under the hood for signs of damage. If you don’t know a lot about belts, hoses, fuses, and the components of a vehicle’s mechanical structure, consider taking it to a professional for an official inspection. Though you may pay a little for this service, the mechanic’s report can fill you in on any issues that could be expensive to repair later on.
Research the Vehicle’s History
A vehicle’s VIN should match its description and history. Take the time to run a quick vehicle history report to compare the vehicle’s description and find out if the car has been involved in any accidents or undergone any serious mechanical work. You can also find out information about how well the car has been maintained by previous owners.
Keep Resale in Mind
Most people keep a vehicle for 3 to 5 years before trading it in or selling it for another one. Though no one expects to receive the price he or she paid years ago for their trade, some cars are certainly known to hold their value better than others over time. Since a used car price already accounts for some depreciation, consider how much more your vehicle might depreciate before you are ready to exchange it for another one. For example, Subaru and Lexus brands take top honors in 2016 for 5-year value retention.
Factor in All Costs
If you are buying a used vehicle to save a little cash, it does you no good if you lose your savings in maintenance and ownership expenses. Take time to research the gas mileage your new-to-you vehicle should get in the city and on the highway. You can check government estimates, as well as track real-life MPG totals from other owners of the same make and model through apps like Fuelly.
In addition to checking the cost of gas mileage, talk with your insurance agent about how purchasing a particular vehicle could affect your car insurance. For more information or to request a car insurance quote for a particular used vehicle, contact Gutman Insurance in Manatowoc to speak with one of our helpful team members.
Negotiate a Fair Price
Just because you can afford the price of a used car does not mean it is necessarily a good deal. Take some time to research the actual value of the vehicle you are buying. Take into account its interior and exterior condition, as well as any mechanical issues that may need to be addressed. Don’t forget the tires, either, as a new set can cost up to $1,000 or more. Kelley Blue Book is an excellent starting point, but you can also get second opinions on resale and trade-in values from other dealers in your area.