Buying a brand-new car off the lot can be expensive, which is why so many people choose used. Used cars provide the same stylish models and special deals without the high price point. While purchasing used offers certain financial benefits, there are still pitfalls to avoid. Check out these 3 tips to buying used.



1. Condition of the Car:



Even if you’re not a car enthusiast, you should be able to inspect a used vehicle for basic wear and tear. Crouch down at one side of the front of the car, near the fender, and examine the shape from where you are. Things to consider are any ripples, dips, or curvature of the trim lines; this could indicate frame damage, which will impact the way the vehicle drives. Following this, check for rust spots, including the underside of the car. Don’t be afraid to get down on the ground and peek under the vehicle. No matter how honest your dealer is, his or her top priority is selling this car, so they may not mention rust, if you don’t ask about it. Finally, look for any areas where paint doesn’t match, or where welds look new, this means that the car has had work done; not exactly an issue, but it opens the window for you to inquire about why it was repainted or welded and whether that should impact the drive.


The rest of the inspection takes place during a test-drive, this is the time to check breaks, struts, and resistance. Get a feel for how firmly you need to tap the break, listing for any squeaks or clicks, and pay attention to shakiness or jerkiness when you stop or turn. All these indicators point to underlying issues which should be repaired before sale, or included in your sale.



2. Dealership Dealings:



The term, “used car dealership”, has held negative connotations for many buyers over the years, but these businesses aren’t the greasy money grabs painted in a variety of bad Hollywood movies. Most used car dealerships are legitimate businesses with loyal employees, and a wealth of reliable options for sale. It’s still important to do your due diligence and research local sales spots for the best option.


An online search will show you listings of nearby dealers, and opens the door to further information. From here you can check reviews from past clients, read about current and upcoming deals at individual sites, as well as gain access to contact information for the sale managers at each business. Once you’ve narrowed it down to a few select favorites, it’s time to make some calls. Speaking to a dealer over the phone gives you the opportunity to ask questions, get a feel for their attitude, and decide if you could potentially see yourself giving this person your business.


After the initial call, book a time to go in and sit down with a sales rep to ask questions, gain insight on the dealership, and look at a few of the models they have in store. Don’t feel obligated to buy on your first visit, and set your expectations at the first meeting.


3. Reports and Statistics:



You’ve found the best dealership, chosen a car, and checked it for dents and rust. Now it’s time for some clear-cut paperwork indicating the value of the car, previous inspections and accidents, as well as an agreement from the dealer to continue upkeep and maintenance for an appointed time-period. This is when you want to know about warranties and rebates, as well as dealership policies after the finalization of the sale.


It’s easy to skip this step and go right to the signing table and drive your car home off the lot, but it’s important to know exactly what you’re getting into, and what you’re getting out of this transaction. It may not be a brand-new car that comes complete with a spare set of tires or a $500 rebate, but used cars still have their perks. Ask about return policies, dealership warranties, and do a little bit of haggling on cost and special incentives.


To sum things up, buying a used car involves the same amount of research as buying a new car, and then some. It can be highly rewarding, as there are many hidden gems to suss out at local dealerships. Take your time, and do your due diligence to get the best bang for your buck, and find a keeper that will really last.