Tips For Buying A Used Car In 2021


Buying a used car is quite like adopting a pet or introducing a new person into your home. It’s been said, over 50 million used cars are bought or sold each year. You have to do your part and ensure you’ve done all the background checks and know all there is to know about the car before you seal the deal.

Tips For Buying A Used Car In 2021

If you’re thinking about buying a used car in 2021, here’re some tips that could be useful in the dog-eat-dog automobile industry. 

  1. Stick to Your Budget Lane 

First thing’s first, before buying a used car, you have to set a price range. Be sure to consider the total ownership cost for your next car. The total cost should include the purchase price and the monthly cost of running the car. 

It’d be great if you could buy your used car with cash, but if you’re taking a loan, you may still be required to pay an initial payment. It’s advisable to make a down payment of at least 20% of the vehicle cost. Try to reduce the loan interest rate by putting down more on the down payment. 

There’s life after owning your car, so remember the budgeting rule of thumb. After your down payment, keep your loan installments to not more than 20% of your monthly net income. The point is, once you’ve figured out what car you want, work out the total purchasing price and make sure you can afford the monthly loan payments and the running costs. 

Some pre-owned vehicles will be out of warranty, so it may be a good idea to put some money aside to cover any repairs.

  1. Narrow Down Your Search

There’re millions of cars out there, so you may wonder where to start. The best starting point is making sure you’ve figured out your budget and your car preference. That should help narrow down your search.

For the best chances, you could begin by confining your search to a body type, for example, an SUV, sedan, or truck. Depending on your budget, you could further narrow down the search by selecting the general engine size and the age of the preferred vehicles.

Used cars can be found at the following:

  • Car dealerships that sell single-car brands
  • Independent used car dealerships selling various car brands
  • Used car superstores who sell different car brands
  • Online used car dealerships
  • Online classifieds and social media platforms
  • Individual sellers
  • Rental vehicle sales

Whichever platform you choose to search for your next car, remember to do your homework of ensuring you’re getting the right value for money. When you’ve chosen what you like, then it’s time to check out the condition of the car.

  1. Check Out the Car History and Condition 

Used cars come in a different body and mechanical conditions. Because they’ve been driven by others before, they indeed come with a history. When you’ve identified the car you want, ask as many questions as possible about its history and get the certified vehicle history report.

Most car listings have links to sites that provide free or paid vehicle history reports. The vehicle history report will show if the car has had any major issues, like if it’s been reconditioned, been in an accident, or if it’s been involved in any crime. This can help you avoid buying yourself a headache.

Other things to look out for in the vehicle history report are:

  • Road accident history – the fewer, the better.
  • The fewer the number of previous owners, the better for you. Cars with multiple previous owners have a high chance of underlying problems.
  • If the car was used in a fleet or as a rental, it could be a good negotiation standpoint.
  • Confirm the vehicle mileage; the one in the report should match that on the listing.
  • If the model has had a manufacturer recall, you need to determine if the issues were resolved.
  • The maintenance history on the report must be satisfactory. Well-maintained and serviced cars usually have better performance and value.

If you still want a vehicle despite some defects or shortcomings shown in the vehicle history report, you could take a printout and use it to negotiate a good deal.

  1. Do A Thorough Inspection

Apart from doing a body inspection to check for any problems with the paintwork, getting a qualified mechanic to inspect your prospective car is the way to go. Mechanics will do a thorough assessment before you seal the deal. The paperwork alone may not be enough to give you the satisfaction that all the nook and cranny are in condition. 

Experts always know what to check out when doing physical inspections. When you spend a little to get this done, you could save thousands of unforeseen repairs. Once you get the green light to take the car, you can now give it a go.

  1. Test Drive

Giving a car a good test drive allows you to get a sense of the ride, comfort, and handling. It could also give you a chance to assess if you like the vehicle’s components and extras like electronics.

When you do a test drive, try out different surfaces and terrains. Remember to keep the radio off so that you don’t miss any unusual sounds.

The essential things to pay close attention to when you test drive include:

  • The dashboard warning lights.
  • Blind spots and visibility while driving and changing lanes.
  • The handling, acceleration, and turning.
  • The power and compact steering.
  • The braking system.
  • The comfort and accessibility to all the controls.
  • The mechanical condition like rev counts, temperature gauge, and vibrations.
  • Other components like the sound system, air-con, and nobs.
  • After the test drive, check if there’s enough legroom and trunk capacity.
  1. Negotiate A Good Deal

Do some research and get an idea about the general cost of the vehicle you’ve decided to buy. If you’d done all the work of working out your budget, you should have a figure you’d want to spend by this time.

If you’re organized well enough, then it shouldn’t take long to strike a deal. The following are some of the things to consider when making a deal:

  • Although you have a figure in mind, your opening offer must be less, but within range of the car’s general value.
  • Make it known that you’ve done your research on the value of the car.
  • If you arrive at a price that’s within your budget, and both you and the seller are happy, then it should be all good.
  • Always remember that the customer is always king, so you’ll likely have the upper hand.

  1. Check All Your Paperwork

After the negotiating is done, it’s time to make sure you have all the paperwork. Go through the contract thoroughly and make sure you understand all the clauses. Take note of the listed documentation and fees such as the smog certificate charge, sales tax, license fees, and, possibly, a documentation fee. If you’re happy, you can go ahead and sign.

Before making a payment:

  • Make sure the title has been signed over to you. 
  • You should by now be aware of the regulations for vehicle registration. If you’re not, check with your local authorities.
  • When all’s said and done, ensure that you have insurance for the car.

You’re Good to Go

Once done, you’re good to go. Congratulations. Your hard work and diligence should pay off.