Used Car Shopping – Tips to Not Overspend

Shopping for a used car can be a daunting experience for the average person. In today’s digital age, it’s far to easy to experience information overload in the used car market. Make sure you follow the below tips in order to get a fair deal on your car!

(1) Know Your Price Limit

Whether you decide to purchase with saved up cash or you decide to finance your new (used) car, always know your absolute maximum budget and stay within it. Your maximum budget should factor in you current savings as well as a contingency amount which can be used for emergencies. Never assume that your used car will be problem free!! All cars require some regular maintenance at the least and may run into larger issues down the road. Breakdowns cannot be prevented but they can be prepared for.

(2) Research The Make and Model

Based on your budget, you can now start looking at the specific brand of vehicle that you want. To get started here, you will have to ask yourself a number of important questions on how you will be using the car. Here are a few to get you started:

  • Will you be using the car just for yourself or to transport your family as well? – This will impact the size of vehicle you should get.
  • What type of climate and conditions will you be driving in? (Snow, rain, sand, dirt, dry) – This will impact the type of drivetrain your vehicle should have (4×4, FWD, RWD, AWD)
  • Will you be towing anything with your car? – This may be better suited with trucks as opposed to smaller vehicles.

Once you’ve narrowed it down to a few specific models, you can start doing more in depth research on each car. One of the best things to know is the typical problems and issues with any given model – This will let you know what to look out for before buying and can give you idea of what the typical cost of repair is as well. Another thing to look out for could be unusually expensive¬† maintenance items (i.e. expensive timing belt, synthetic oil required, air suspension service) which could end up costing you a lot of money in the future. Doing this research will also give you a better understanding of current market prices for your vehicle so you’ll know the general price range that you can expect to find on the market.

(3) Get Insurance Quotes

One of the biggest mistakes that people make when purchasing a vehicle is not researching the effect that this will have on their insurance rates! Insurance rates can depend on many factors including your risk class (previous accidents), type of car, and geographical location. Changing the type of car you drive may have a large impact on your yearly premium – this can be especially true if the car you’ve chosen is worth much more or if it is likely to get stolen.

(4) Don’t Get Emotional

Often much easier said than done, it is important to not let your emotions blind you when you are looking at a new vehicle. It is easy to ignore the warning signs of a poorly maintained car when we get emotional and this may end up costing you a lot of money in the long run. Try to be as objective as possible when inspecting a car and bring a friend with you if possible so that they can provide a second opinion on the car incase you’re not thinking clearly. Also remember that you should always be willing to walk away!! You have no obligation to purchase any car that you look at and you shouldn’t feel any pressure to pass something up if you don’t feel comfortable. The classic saying still holds – “If it’s too good to be true, then it probably is…”.

(5) Get a Pre-Purchase Inspection

Any honest buyer should have no problem with you taking the car for a thorough test drive and also letting a non-biased mechanic inspect the vehicle. Some mechanics may charge a small fee for this service ($50-$100) but this price is well worth is to ensure that you don’t purchase a lemon. A mechanic may also be able to give you some purchase advice since they deal with this sort of thing day-to-day and have more insight into the workings of a particular model than the general public.


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