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Auto Buying Tips

Five tips for the best car-buying experience.

Looking for a Used Car? These Five Tips Can Help

  1. Mind over matter. Finding the right vehicle can be an emotional decision. We tend to fall in love with our cars, a relationship which can become "love-hate" when the used car becomes somewhat of a clunker. For this reason it's important not to let your heart override your common sense. Shop with another person to ensure that a second opinion is close at hand.
  2. Clean out your comb. Used cars are just that…used. The new car warranty is either gone or waning, so make sure all guarantees are in writing. Go over this paperwork with the proverbial fine-toothed comb.
  3. Don't skip "history class." A big factor, of course, is the vehicle's service history. Beware of the private seller who boasts, "I never had to do a thing to it." It could be an accident or a breakdown waiting to happen. Sooner or later lack of maintenance will catch up…sometimes with the new owner.
  4. Play the Price Is Right. At your bank, library, or auto parts store you can borrow or buy an appraisal guide. These books, published by National Auto Dealers Association, Kelly's Blue Book, Edmonds and others, help determine if the seller's asking price is in the right range. This information also is available on the Internet.
  5. A checkup before a check. Used car shoppers should invest in a thorough inspection of any used vehicle. Due to the complex systems in today's vehicles, analysis of these sophisticated systems demand more than a trained eye, they also require specialized equipment for total evaluation.
“It's not that the buyer should ‘borrow trouble’ or look for an Achilles Heel to use against the asking price,” explained Donna Wagner, Vice President of the Car Care Council. “But he/she should do everything possible to avoid buying a bomb. A valuable ally in this procedure is a well trained and equipped technician.”