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The Ultimate Car Buyer’s Checklist: The [Complete] Buying Guide

Why You Should Use a Checklist When Buying a Car

When buying a car, it is essential to use a checklist to make sure that no important steps are missed and that all the necessary research and due diligence is done. A checklist can help you avoid making costly mistakes and ensure that you get the best deal and a car that won’t need costly repairs down the line. A checklist can also guide you through the car-buying process, helping you spot problems before they become your problems. Additionally, a checklist can help you maximize the time spent with a car before you make a purchase and make sure that you are aware of all the pros and cons of both new and used cars. Ultimately, using a checklist when buying a car is the best way to ensure that you get the car you want, at the price you want, without any hidden surprises.

Click here to get a CARFAX Vehicle History Report!

The Things You Need to Consider When Buying a Used Car (with Check List)

1. Used Car Buyer’s Checklist: Vehicle Selection

When selecting a used car, there are a few key factors that should be taken into consideration. First, it is important to decide on the make and model of the car that best suits your needs. Researching the used car market can provide valuable insight into the car’s value and if you can negotiate a great deal. Additionally, you should research the cost of financing, insuring, and servicing the vehicle. It is also advisable to research the car’s vehicle history, as it provides peace of mind regarding the car’s overall condition.

When buying a used car, it is important to take the time to meet with the seller and inspect the car thoroughly before making a purchase. You should check for rust or damage to the undercarriage, engine and body, and inspect the interior for cleanliness, comfort and size. It is also important to check the tires for wear, the oil for the proper level and color, and the coolant and radiator for leaks or corrosion. You should also conduct a test drive to gauge acceleration, handling, and braking. Finally, request and review service records, receipts and title before making a purchase.

When buying a new car, it is important to research the latest models, safety features and technology, as well as the cost of financing, insuring, and servicing the vehicle. You should also negotiate the best deal possible and conduct an effective test drive to assess acceleration, handling, and braking. Finally, make sure to inspect the car thoroughly before signing the paperwork and driving away.

Overall, when selecting a used or new car, it is vital to consider the make and model, cost of financing, insuring and servicing, vehicle history and inspection, and test drive before making a purchase. Taking the time to do the necessary research and legwork can help ensure you get the best deal and a car that fits your life.

2. Used Car Buyer’s Checklist: Price

When determining the price of a used car, there are several factors to consider. For example, research the used car’s asking price to make sure you are getting the best deal. Additionally, it can be helpful to use Cars.com auto loan calculators to find out how much it would cost to finance the vehicle. Furthermore, it is important to research the car’s vehicle history to ensure you are buying a reliable car. Lastly, making sure the car is comfortable, has the proper amount of space, and has no rust or damage is essential. Ultimately, when buying a used car, research and negotiation are key in order to get the best deal.

3. Used Car Buyer’s Checklist: Repairs and maintenance

When buying a used car, it’s important to consider what repairs and maintenance may be necessary. You should be aware of any oil and filter changes, part replacements, tire purchases, tune-ups, and previous accidents or damages. To ensure that you are making an informed decision, you may choose to hire an independent mechanic to accompany you to a dealership or the location of sale. Alternatively, you may opt to use a used car inspection checklist to fully inspect the car before making your decision.

When inspecting the vehicle, you should check the undercarriage, engine, body, tires, oil, coolant, radiator, brake system, steering, and alignment. Additionally, you should review the service records, receipts, and title, and have a mechanic inspect the car. Following a thorough inspection process and making sure that you know the car’s history will help you make the best decision when it comes to purchasing a used car.

A CARFAX Vehicle History Report can help tell you about a car’s maintenance history.

4. Used Car Buyer’s Checklist: Safety and reliability

When it comes to buying a used car, there are many safety and reliability factors to consider. Researching the used car’s asking price, financing, insurance, and vehicle history are essential steps to take before making a purchase. It’s also important to inspect the car for rust, damage, tire wear, and oil level, and to test drive the vehicle for acceleration and handling. Finally, it’s a good idea to have a mechanic inspect the car, and to request and review the vehicle’s service records, receipts, and title.

For added peace of mind, car shoppers should also visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website for safety information and ratings. The NHTSA’s Vehicle Comparison Tool and 5-Star Safety Rating recommendations allows car buyers to check for driver assistance technologies, air bags, seat belts, and more. With this information, car buyers can make an informed decision and feel confident in their purchase.

5. Used Car Buyer’s Checklist: Space and cargo space

When evaluating a used car’s space and cargo space, there are a few key factors to consider. First, you should ask yourself how many people you will be towing, as this will give you an idea of the size of car you will need. Additionally, consider how many miles you will cover and the fuel efficiency of each vehicle. Lastly, think about how much cargo space you will need for any items or equipment. A large SUV or pickup might be a good option if you need a lot of cargo space, while a large sedan or minivan would be ideal for a family with several members. Ultimately, it is important to map out a test course to get a feel for the car’s maneuverability, acceleration, and handling.

6. Used Car Buyer’s Checklist: Fuel economy

When it comes to shopping for a used car, one of the key factors to consider is the fuel economy of the vehicle. It is important to compare and contrast the fuel economy of different models to find the best one for your needs.

To get an idea of the current gas prices, you can check FuelEconomy.gov where you can calculate and track your MPG and fuel savings. This will give you an idea of how much you can expect to spend on gas for the car you are considering buying.

It is also important to research the used car’s vehicle history to get an idea of its past performance. This information can help you determine if the car is reliable and if it has been well maintained.

You should also use Cars.com auto loan calculators to find out how much it would cost to finance the vehicle. This will give you an idea of the cost of ownership for the car. Additionally, it is important to find out how much it would cost to insure the vehicle before making a purchase.

Finally, during the test drive, be sure to check the car’s tires for wear, the oil for the proper level and color, and the coolant and radiator for leaks or corrosion. Taking the time to evaluate these aspects of the car will help you get a better understanding of the vehicle’s fuel economy.

7. Used Car Buyer’s Checklist: Performance

When evaluating a used car’s performance, there are a number of factors to consider when comparing and contrasting different models. It is important to assess the brakes for wear, the steering wheel for maneuverability, the acceleration, and any unusual noises or vibrations. Additionally, it is important to check the air conditioner, the audio system, and the tires for wear. All of these components should be thoroughly tested during a test drive. Additionally, the car’s history should be researched, such as its service records, previous accidents or damages, and any part replacements. A mechanic should also be consulted to inspect the car before purchase. By taking the time to properly evaluate a used car’s performance, buyers can ensure that they make a well-informed investment.

8. Used Car Buyer’s Checklist: Fuel costs

When you’re looking to purchase a used car, it’s important to consider not only the cost of buying the car, but also the cost of owning it. One of the most significant costs is the amount of fuel it will require. FuelEconomy.gov is a great resource for researching the fuel cost of a specific car, as it allows you to calculate and compare the MPG and fuel savings of different cars. It even provides information on hybrids, electric, and alternative fuel cars. With this tool, you can better assess the fuel costs for the used car you’re considering and get an idea of how much it will cost you to fuel it.

9. Used Car Buyer’s Checklist: Warranty

When buying a used car, it is important to consider the warranty options available. The factory warranty may have expired, or the used car may not have been covered by a warranty at all. Extended warranties can provide additional coverage for costly repairs and can help protect a buyer from unexpected expenses. It is important to research the options available from third-party providers to get the best coverage for the budget. Additionally, gap insurance coverage can be purchased from an auto insurance company, which can help cover the difference between the amount owed on the car and the actual cash value of the car if it is totaled in an accident. Taking time to research and compare the different warranties can save a buyer a lot of money in the long run.

A CARFAX Vehicle History Report can tell you if a car has any active warranties.

10. Used Car Buyer’s Checklist: Insurance

When shopping for a used car, it is important to consider the cost of auto insurance. Prices can vary substantially depending on the model of car. It is also important to have the right coverage for your new-to-you vehicle. Without proper insurance, you could be responsible for any damages that occur to the car, or any damages the car may cause. Additionally, most states require that you have insurance on any car you finance, and lenders will usually require you to have insurance as well. Therefore, researching the best insurance deals for your car is essential in order to save money, stay on the right side of the law, and ensure that you are properly protected.

11. Used Car Buyer’s Checklist: Financing options

Make sure you are well prepared to finance your used car purchase by following these steps:

A. Check your credit score. Understand your credit health and try improving it before going to the dealership.

B. Investigate financing options. Consider direct lending or dealership financing to find the best option for you.

C. Do the math. Calculate additional costs such as maintenance, gas, insurance, registration and taxes.

D. Apply for preapproval. Get preapproved for an auto loan with at least three lenders to give you the same negotiating power as a cash buyer.

E. Organize your paperwork. Gather the necessary documents such as your driver’s license, preapproved loan application, proof of insurance, and money for the down payment.

12. Used Car Buyer’s Checklist: Depreciation

Depreciation affects the value of a used car in a variety of ways. When buying a used car, the cost of the car will be lower than a brand new car, since the car has already been “used” and has lost some of its value due to depreciation. The cost of repairs over the lifetime of the car can also be affected by depreciation, as parts of the car will age and become less effective, and thus more costly to replace or repair. Finally, the cost of insurance on a used car may be higher than the cost of insurance on a brand new car, due to the fact that the car is older and may be more likely to require repairs or replacement. Therefore, when considering buying a used car, it’s important to research the car and understand how much the car has depreciated in value, how much it could cost to repair or replace parts over the lifetime of the car, and how much insurance on the car will cost.

13. Used Car Buyer’s Checklist: Price range

When shopping for a used car, it’s important to start by considering your budget. You’ll want to determine a price range for the vehicle you’re looking for and avoid looking for, shopping for, or test-driving cars outside of your price range. To help make the car buying process less daunting, it’s beneficial to research used car prices, find out how much it would cost to finance the vehicle, and determine how much it would cost to insure the vehicle. Additionally, it’s important to look into the car’s vehicle history, interview prospective sellers, and set a daytime appointment to meet in a safe place such as a police station. Before taking a test drive, check the car’s undercarriage, engine, body, interior, tires, oil, coolant, and radiator. Then, while test driving, check the used car’s acceleration and handling on the highway, the brakes on a city street, and the steering and alignment. After the test drive, inspect the engine for leaks, odors, and smoke, and request and review the service records, receipts, and title. Finally, it is wise to have a mechanic inspect the car you’re thinking of buying.

14. Used Car Buyer’s Checklist: Loan terms

When buying a used car, it is important to consider loan terms, as they can vary greatly. If you are looking to finance the purchase of a used car, you may consider a traditional auto loan from a bank or credit union, or an installment loan from a private lender.

Traditional auto loans typically offer fixed interest rates and allow you to spread the cost of the car over a period of time. They may also offer a variety of loan terms, so you can choose a repayment period that works for you. On the other hand, installment loans are more short-term and often offer higher interest rates. They may also require a substantial down payment, so you need to be prepared to make a sizable upfront payment.

Ultimately, it is important to research your options and compare the terms of different loan products before deciding which one best fits your needs. This will help ensure that you get the best deal possible and make a smart decision when it comes to financing your used car purchase.

15. Used Car Buyer’s Checklist: Options and packages

When buying a used car, it is important to understand the various options and packages available. Many buyers opt for a package that includes extended warranty protection and aftermarket accessories such as floor mats and interior trim. These options can be beneficial, depending on your individual needs, but they are usually sold at a premium price. It is also important to research the used car’s asking price and vehicle history. Make sure to review the service records, receipts and title, as well as ask the dealer to print out the vehicle history to view all service records, such as oil and filter changes, part replacements, tire purchases, tune-ups, and previous accidents and damages. Knowing the car’s history can help you make an informed decision when purchasing a used car.

16. Used Car Buyer’s Checklist: Vehicle history

A vehicle history report is a critical aspect of the buying process when shopping for a used car. This report provides important information about the car’s title, maintenance and service records, accidents and damages, and other details. It is important to get the car’s vehicle identification number (VIN) or license plate number from the seller before purchasing a vehicle history report. This report can tell you if a car is worth pursuing or if there are too many red flags. It can also tell you if the car has been in any reported accidents, if it has any serious problems such as water damage from a flood, fire damage, and more. Knowing a car’s history gives you leverage during price negotiation. Ultimately, the vehicle history report is an essential step in the process when buying a used car.

17. Used Car Buyer’s Checklist: MSRP

MSRP stands for Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price, and it’s the full retail price of the vehicle. This is often not what you’ll pay because you can usually get a better deal based on incentives and rebates available. MSRP is important when buying a used car because it’s a good baseline to start from when negotiating a price. You can look up the MSRP and compare it to other cars to get a sense of what a fair price is. From there, you should look at what others in your area are paying for the same make and model to get the best possible deal. It’s important to remember that you should stay firm on your budget and not get swayed by salespeople trying to get you to add on extras.

18. Used Car Buyer’s Checklist: Dealer commission

The dealer commission for buying a used car typically depends on the market value of the car and the amount of effort the dealer put into the sale. It can range from a few hundred dollars to over a thousand dollars. When negotiating, it is important to remember that the dealer is trying to make a profit. You may be able to negotiate a lower commission or incentives for the purchase. Be sure to also consider the cost of any add-ons (extended warranties, paint protection, etc.) that the dealership may try to upsell you on.

19. Used Car Buyer’s Checklist: Car reviews

When reviewing a used car, it is important to consider the make and model of the car, the asking price, the cost of financing and insuring the vehicle, the vehicle history, the condition of the undercarriage, engine, and body for rust or damage, the interior for cleanliness, comfort, and size, the tires for wear, the oil for proper level and color, the coolant and radiator for leaks or corrosion, acceleration and handling, the brakes, and the steering and alignment. It is also important to inspect the engine for leaks, odors, or smoke, request and review the service records, receipts, and title, and have a mechanic inspect the car. Taking a test drive and planning ahead are essential to maximize the time spent with a car and to identify potential problems.

20. Used Car Buyer’s Check

The Used Car Buyer’s Checklist is an important tool for anyone looking to buy a used car. It is a step-by-step guide to help ensure that you do your due diligence to make an informed purchase. The checklist covers everything from researching the asking price and car history to negotiating the best deal and inspecting the vehicle. It is important to use the checklist to make sure you are getting a reliable and safe vehicle that is worth the price you are paying. The checklist is also useful for ensuring that all paperwork is in order and that the car’s title and service records are in good condition. Additionally, you may want to consider bringing in a professional mechanic to inspect the car before you purchase it. By following the Used Car Buyer’s Checklist, you can be sure you are making the best decision for your car purchase.

Click here to get a CARFAX Vehicle History Report!

Additional Questions to Ask Before Buying a Car

When purchasing a new or used car, also consider the following questions before making a decision:

  • What is the vehicle’s price, and is it negotiable?
  • What is the fuel economy of the vehicle?
  • What is the vehicle’s reliability rating?
  • What is the vehicle’s safety rating?
  • What is the vehicle’s warranty, and what does it cover?
  • What is the vehicle’s maintenance schedule, and how often does it need to be serviced?
  • What is the vehicle’s resale value?
  • What are the financing options for purchasing the vehicle?
  • What are the available features and options for the vehicle?
  • What is the history of the vehicle, including any accidents or previous owners?
  • What is the vehicle’s towing capacity?
  • What is the vehicle’s cargo capacity?
  • What is the vehicle’s horsepower and torque?
  • What is the vehicle’s top speed?
  • What is the vehicle’s acceleration time?
  • What is the vehicle’s braking distance?
  • What is the vehicle’s ground clearance?
  • What is the vehicle’s turning radius?
  • What is the vehicle’s infotainment system like?
  • What is the vehicle’s interior and exterior design like?

The Steps on How to Use the Car Buyer’s Checklist

Step 1: Gather your buying criteria.

When buying a car, it is important to use a car buyers checklist to ensure you don’t make any mistakes. Here are the steps to follow in order to use the car buyers checklist effectively:

A. Determine your needs: Before you visit a car dealership, take some time to think about what you will be using your new car for, how much space you will actually need, and how much you are willing to spend.

B. Research: After you have established your needs, you can search for potential models and styles that appeal to you by reading online reviews, road tests, and owner reviews. It is also helpful to visit the manufacturer’s website to check out all the trim levels and options available for the car you have chosen. See our page on State Departments of Transportation for more information on what paperwork you’ll need to fill out.

C. Configure your car: Once you have narrowed down your choices, you will need to configure your car on the carmaker’s website. This will involve deciding which model and trim level you are interested in, and what options you would prefer.

D. Check pricing and incentives: Online resources like Edmunds, Kelley Blue Book, and TrueCar can help you determine the car’s real market value price and any incentives that the manufacturer may be offering, such as cash back or low-interest financing.

E. Find your car: Search the inventory of local dealerships to find the exact car you want to buy. Make sure to write down the stock number or vehicle identification number (VIN) for reference.

F. Check your credit: Before you purchase a car, you should check your credit score. This will give you a good idea of the interest rate you are likely to get.

G. Run the numbers: Use an auto loan calculator to estimate your monthly car payment and make sure it fits into your budget.

H. Get pre-approved financing: Apply for a car loan before you visit the dealership. This will strengthen your negotiating position when it’s time to purchase.

By following these steps, you can easily use the car buyers checklist to make sure you are making the right decisions and avoiding any costly mistakes when it comes to buying your car.

Step 2: Check the used car checklist.

The used car checklist is a comprehensive guide that provides a step-by-step process for thoroughly inspecting and evaluating a used car before buying it. It includes considerations such as researching the used car’s asking price, its vehicle history, and insurance costs, as well as interviewing the seller and taking a test drive. Additionally, the checklist also covers inspecting the undercarriage, engine, body, tires, oil, coolant and radiator, brakes, steering and alignment, and engine for leaks, odors or smoke. With the help of the used car checklist, potential buyers can feel confident about their purchase and make sure that they are not getting ripped off or spending more than necessary.

Don’t forget a CARFAX Vehicle History Report to learn about any accidents or repairs a vehicle has had.

Step 3: Take a look under the hood with the engine off.

To check under the hood with the engine off, you will need a flashlight and a paper towel or napkins. Start by checking for any signs of leaking oil, transmission fluid, or coolant. Then, check the engine’s oil levels and note the color and thickness. Make sure the engine coolant levels are at the proper level. After that, inspect the hoses, belts, and wires to ensure they are in good condition. Finally, use the flashlight to check for any corrosion or damage. Once you have completed your inspection, you can start the engine.

Step 4: Review the interior.

Reviewing the interior of a car can help car buyers use the car buyers checklist effectively. By examining the interior of the car, buyers can look for indicators of the car’s life and maintenance, including the condition of the upholstery and the smell of the car, the mileage and if it matches the listing provided, all indicators and switches, and the air conditioning. Buyers can also check for signs of water damage and other wear and tear that may not be evident from the exterior. By using the car buyers checklist, buyers can make sure that all features, such as the windshield wipers, headlights, reverse lights, turn signals, and seatbelts, are working properly and that the car is in good condition.

Step 5: Verify all service records.

  1. Ask to see the seller’s repair records to review the maintenance and service history of the car.
  2. If you are buying from a car dealer, the dealer can pull the service history of any work performed by another dealer of the same brand. Services done by independent shops won’t be recorded in these records.
  3. Ask for a lien release letter if buying from private sellers to ensure any lien on the car has been paid off. You can also verify this by looking at the title for a “no lien” designation.
  4. Visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) website and enter the car’s VIN to check for any open recalls.
  5. Request the seller to correct any recall problem before signing any paperwork as recall repairs are free.

Step 6: Negotiate electric car prices.

Electric cars have become increasingly popular over the past few years, but they can also be expensive. If you want to get a good deal on an electric car, it’s important to prepare beforehand and be ready to negotiate. Here are some steps to take in order to get a good deal:

A. Research Electric Car Prices: Before you go to the dealership, make sure to research the market prices of the electric cars you’re interested in. This will help you to create a baseline of the prices to expect when negotiating.

B. Test Drive the Car: When you go to the dealership, it’s important to test drive the car you are considering to make sure it has all the features you are looking for.

C. Make an Opening Offer: Once you have a baseline of the market prices, make an opening offer about $1,000 below what you expect to pay. This will let the dealership know you are serious about negotiating.

D. Counteroffer: If your first offer isn’t accepted, consider raising it by $250 until you reach an agreement or the true market value price.

E. Get an Out-the-Door Price: Before you agree to any deal, ask for an out-the-door price with a breakdown of fees and any extras.

F. Be Prepared for Upsells: The finance and insurance manager will draw up the contract. You will be pitched extras such as an extended warranty, paint protection and anti-theft devices. Be ready to say “no” or buy these later.

G. Review Your Contract: Make sure the numbers match what you agreed to in the sales office and your own estimates.

H. Get It in Writing: If anything is missing, like spare keys or an owner’s manual, or if any work is promised on the car, get it in writing. This is called a “due bill.”

I. Check the Gas Gauge: New cars are sold with a full tank of gas. Make sure to check the fuel level before you leave the lot.

By following these steps and keeping your cool during the negotiation process, you’ll be sure to get the best possible deal on an electric car.

Step 7: Explore financing options.

How can I explore financing options for a car purchase? [Step-by-step instructions]

A. Set your sights. Decide what vehicle you want and what features are essential or desirable.

B. Check pricing. Use resources like Kelley Blue Book to research current vehicle pricing and set expectations for what you are willing to spend.

C. Investigate financing options. Compare direct lending with dealership financing. Consider interest rates and incentives like 0% financing.

D. Do the math. Calculate the total cost of ownership beyond the sticker price, including maintenance, gas, insurance, registration, taxes, and fees.

E. Check your credit. Understand your credit health and consider ways to improve it before going to the dealership.

F. Organize your paperwork. Gather your driver’s license, payment method, proof of insurance, and other documents like proof of employment and income.

G. Apply for preapproval. Get preapproved for a car loan with at least three lenders. This will give you the same negotiating power as a cash buyer.

H. Compare financing options. Talk to your bank, credit union, or auto finance company, but don’t rule out dealer financing. They may have better incentives than what other lenders offer.

A CARFAX Vehicle History Report can ensure you’re not over-spending for your next car.

FAQs

What should I consider when buying a car?

When considering buying a car, there are several key factors to consider. First, decide which make and model is best for you. Make sure to research the used car’s asking price and find out how much it would cost to finance and insure the vehicle. Additionally, research the car’s vehicle history to understand its past use and maintenance. Interview prospective sellers over the phone or on email before meeting them in person, and set a daytime appointment to meet in the parking lot of your local police station, if they allow it.

Before starting the test drive, check the used car’s undercarriage, engine and body for rust or damage, and inspect the tires for wear. Check the oil for the proper level and color, and check the coolant and radiator for leaks or corrosion. Drive on the highway to gauge acceleration and handling, and on city streets to test the brakes by hitting them hard. Test the used car’s steering and alignment, and practice parking for maneuverability and sight lines. After the test drive, inspect the engine for leaks, odors or smoke. Request and review the service records, receipts and title, and have a mechanic inspect the car you’re thinking of buying.

When it comes to the overall experience, make sure to leave your emotions at home and map out a test course to test the car in the same environments in which you will drive it — on the freeway, in stop-and-go traffic, in parking lots and on hills. Lastly, examine the specifics of the car to make sure it’s the right fit for your needs and lifestyle.

What kind of financing options are available?

When it comes to financing a vehicle, there are many different options available to you. Depending on your budget and specific financial situation, the best option for you may vary. Some of the most popular finance choices available are auto loans, finance departments, large national banks, credit unions, community banks, and online banks.

Auto loans are often the most ideal choice, as having financing locked in will make you a more empowered car buyer. Talk to your bank, credit union or an auto finance company, such as Capital One, to get the best deals possible on rates and loan terms for your vehicle. They may also have several Honda incentives available to you to help you get an even better deal.

Finance department can help you get the best deal on a loan, as well as provide valuable advice on the car-buying process.

Large national banks typically have thousands of brick-and-mortar branches, plus sophisticated online portals to serve loan applicants and borrowers. The interest rates they offer tend to be higher than other lenders, and they tend to be ruled by strict policies and procedures.

Credit unions are member-owned cooperatives rather than shareholder-owned companies like most other lenders. Instead of paying shareholder dividends, they return any profits to their members through higher savings-interest rates and lower loan-interest rates, making them more affordable than most other financial institutions.

Community banks offer many of the same auto-lending services as large banks, but they do so with a smaller geographic footprint, fewer branches, and often a more personal touch.

Lastly, online banks are a great option during the COVID-19 pandemic. They are convenient, and many have flexible loan programs that cater to borrowers with poor credit or other borrowing challenges.

How do I know if the car I’m buying is reliable?

Buying a used car can be a great deal, but it’s important to choose wisely. To make sure you know if a car is reliable, here is a step-by-step checklist to follow:

A. Decide which make and model you want. Research the used car’s asking price and calculate the cost to finance and insure the vehicle.

B. Research the used car’s vehicle history. Interview prospective sellers over the phone or on email before meeting them in person.

C. Set a daytime appointment to meet in the parking lot of your local police station, if they allow it (many do). Before starting the test drive, check the used car’s undercarriage, engine and body for rust or damage.

D. Check the interior for cleanliness, comfort and size. Drive on the highway to gauge acceleration and handling. On city streets (preferably a side street), test the brakes by hitting them hard. Test the used car’s steering and alignment.

E. After the test drive, inspect the engine for leaks, odors or smoke. Request and review the service records, receipts and title. Have a mechanic inspect the car you’re thinking of buying.

F. Confirm that the seller is the owner of the vehicle. Make sure the vehicle is titled in their name. Check the title status – make sure it isn’t salvaged. Ask to review any service records or reconditioning work the vehicle has undergone. Get your hands on the CarFax, and call your insurance company to run the VIN.

G. Negotiate a fair price for the vehicle and any additional products (extended warranties, GAP insurance, etc.). Be prepared to walk away if you cannot agree to a price.

By following this checklist, you will be better informed when making a decision about the reliability of a used car.

Click here to get a CARFAX Vehicle History Report!

What should I look for in a car dealer?

When choosing a car dealer to purchase your used or new vehicle, there are several things you should look for to ensure that you get the best possible deal. First, always confirm that the seller is the owner of the vehicle and that the title is in their name. Make sure the title is not salvaged as well. Ask to review any service records or reconditioning work the vehicle has undergone, and get your hands on the CarFax. Additionally, call your insurance company and ask them to run the VIN to see what history they can pull on the vehicle. Finally, it is recommended to get a pre-purchase inspection completed.

Research the seller’s Better Business Bureau ratings to make sure they have a good track record of responding to customer complaints and issues. Understand how car dealerships make money selling both used and new cars, and know how car salespeople have been trained to sell you a vehicle. View market conditions for the same year, make, model, and trim of the vehicle, and know how long the seller has been trying to sell the car. You can also engage in negotiations towards the end of the month if possible, and make sure to negotiate on the out-the-door price of the vehicle. Additionally, apply any manufacturer incentives after you have agreed to the selling price of the vehicle.

Finally, before you go to the dealership, know if you plan to finance, lease, or pay cash. If financing, secure loan options, negotiate any extended warranty products, and review the buyer’s order to make sure there are no mistakes. Once everything looks good, and you have received the best deal, enjoy your new car!

What should I check for in a car inspection?

When inspecting a used car, it’s important to take the time to check the car in detail and ensure that it is suitable for purchase. The exterior inspection should include checking the windshield for chips and cracks, looking for dents and scratches, making sure the doors, trunk, and hood open and close properly, and ensuring that the headlights, brights, directional lights, and tail lights work. Additionally, look for rust on the trunk, hinges, or door edges. During a test drive, make sure to check the brakes for wear and any strange noises, the steering wheel, the acceleration, any unusual noises and vibrations, the air conditioner, and the car system’s audio. Furthermore, during daylight hours, examine the body and windows for scratches, dents, rust, faded paint, body imperfections, and even tire age, brand, size, and wear. Finally, check the suspension by parking on a level surface, looking for even ride height, and pushing down on each corner of the car to assess the response.

What paperwork should I have when buying a car?

When buying a car, it is important to have all the necessary paperwork ready so that you can make a purchase. For most car purchases, you will need to bring a driver’s license, a pre-approved loan application, proof of insurance, and money for the down payment. If you are buying the car from a dealer, they will have the purchase documents ready to be signed. However, if you are buying the car from a private party, you will need to create a bill of sale and reassign the title from the seller to you. Depending on the state in which you live and the car is registered, you might also have to file an odometer disclosure, have the odometer reading verified, show proof of auto insurance coverage, and pay any applicable taxes when applying for registration. Additionally, you should inspect the title to ensure it is in the seller’s name, and confirm the lien status in case the car is being sold with a loan. Finally, you should try to review the car’s repair records to see its maintenance and service history (although this is not always possible).

What is the best way to get pre-approved for a car loan?

The best way to get pre-approved for a car loan is to shop around and get a few rates before you go to the dealership. Start by researching reputable lenders who offer competitive rates for your credit score. Reach out to them and begin the preapproval process. Once you have a few preapprovals, you can start shopping for a car.

When you visit the dealership, bring your preapproval information and ask for the best rate you can get. Compare the dealer rate with your preapproval and negotiate the best deal.

Before you apply for financing, make sure you have all the information you need, such as your income, monthly expenses, work history, and credit card debt. Answer every question completely and honestly, as any misinformation may result in your loan being turned down.

Finally, apply for multiple auto loans in a short span of time, so the credit reporting agencies won’t think you’re taking out multiple loans. Compare the offers and compare them with the price of the car you want. This will help you get the best financing deal and save you money in the long run.

What should I do to get the best deal on a car?

To get the best deal on a car, you should follow these steps:

A. Test-drive the car to verify the options you selected.

B. Start the negotiation by telling the salesperson you’ve shopped around and priced similar models, then ask for the dealership’s best price.

C. If the salesperson takes your offer to their boss, be unpredictable and wander around the dealership.

D. Make a counteroffer at least $250 below the true market value price until you reach an agreement.

E. Ask for an out-the-door price with all fees and extras included.

F. Be ready for upsells, such as an extended warranty, paint protection and anti-theft devices and be prepared to say no or buy these later.

G. Review your contract and make sure all the numbers match what you agreed to in the sales office and your own estimates.

H. Request anything missing, such as spare keys or an owner’s manual, to be put in writing.

I. Check the fuel level before you leave the lot, as new cars are sold with a full tank of gas.

A CARFAX Vehicle History Report can ensure you’re getting what you’re paying for.

How do I know if I’m getting a good price on a car?

One of the best ways to make sure you’re getting a good price on a car is to do your research ahead of time. Check the market value of the car and compare it to the dealership’s price, and be prepared to make a counteroffer if the price isn’t what you expected. When you’re in the dealership, take your time and confidently negotiate the best deal on the car and any financing or add-ons, such as extended warranties. Finally, make sure you read and understand the contract in full before signing, paying special attention to money due and fees that can be negotiated or waived.

What should I look for in a car warranty?

When buying a car, it’s important to consider what kind of warranty is included and whether it is enough to cover any potential repair costs. To ensure you get the best coverage for your budget, look into third-party providers in addition to any extended warranties offered by dealerships.

Before signing the final paperwork, you’ll likely be bombarded with offers for add-on products such as paint and upholstery sealants, gap insurance, and extended warranties. Do your research before making any decisions, as these products can sometimes be purchased externally at a lower price. Consumer advocates generally advise against purchasing extended warranties, so if you do decide to get one, be sure to compare the various products, prices, and companies.

Manufacturer-certified pre-owned (CPO) cars are another option to consider. These cars have been inspected and refurbished by the manufacturer and usually come with factory warranty coverage. However, the dealer may try to upsell you extras like an extended warranty and aftermarket accessories, so be wary of the time pressure to add these products to your financing package.

When shopping for a car warranty, factors to consider include the length of the coverage, the type of repairs covered, and any costs or fees associated with the policy. It is always best to read the terms and conditions of any warranty you are considering before making a purchase.