Tips for Buying a Used Car

Car dealers often have high overhead and costly fees that can inflate the price of a used car. While you can potentially save money buying a used car from a private seller, you also lack the protections that come from purchasing a vehicle from a registered dealer. Prepare to shop for a high-quality used car on the Maricopa County private sale market by reviewing these smart tips to avoid a bad bargain.

Know the Fair Market Value

Check reputable industry sources such as Edmunds and Kelley Blue Book when you find a vehicle that fits your criteria. Determine whether the seller’s price matches the fair private-party market value of the make and model in question. When you have a shortlist of possible vehicles in mind, you should also check for recalls and common issues to avoid purchasing a car that doesn’t have much life left.

Verify Clear Title

The seller should show you a vehicle title with his or her name on it and be prepared to sign the title over to you at the time of sale if you decide to move forward. Failure to produce this document indicates a possible lien on the vehicle. In other words, the bank owns the car and can seize it for nonpayment of the auto loan. You should also avoid a car with a title noting that the vehicle has been salvaged, totaled, or reported as a lemon.

Order a Vehicle History Report

You can learn even more about a car’s past by submitting its vehicle identification number to get a full history report. The VIN report will provide details about collisions, flood damage, deployment of the vehicle’s airbag, title issues, maintenance services, liens, and ownership over the car’s life.

Shop for Financing

If you plan to finance your vehicle, apply for an auto loan through your bank or credit union before you shop for a private-party used car. You will be in a better position to negotiate if you know exactly how much you can afford to spend on a car, including monthly interest and other associated costs.

Take a Test Drive

Head out for a spin before you agree to purchase a preowned vehicle. As you drive, evaluate the car’s performance both on the highway and in stop-and-go traffic. Test the brakes and make sure features like cruise control work as expected. The vehicle should also have working headlights, reverse lights, brake lights, signals, windows, locks, heating, and air conditioning. Take note of strange noises or performance issues. You should also make sure you feel comfortable and confident behind the wheel. If your body doesn’t fit well in the driver’s seat, for example, it may not be the car for you.

Have a Thorough Inspection

Unlike when you purchase a used car from a dealer, private party sales offer no recourse for a vehicle that breaks down after a week. Before you agree to buy a pre-owned vehicle, have it inspected inside and out by a mechanic you trust. He or she can detect problems that may affect the value of the car or even reverse your decision to make the deal. This inspection includes analysis of the vehicle’s engine, filters, body, an exterior surface, battery, fluid system, belts, hoses, radiator, brakes, suspension, frame, tires, and glass components of the car.

Bring your car into Highline Car Care for a complete inspection before wasting money on a lemon. We serve the entire East Valley from Mesa to Chandler, AZ, from our new, conveniently located Gilbert shop. When you have a potential car purchase in mind, schedule an appointment for a comprehensive pre-purchase evaluation.

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