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How to Buy a Quality Used Car

If you’re in the market for a second hand car, you may be fully aware that used car prices are sky high. Gone are the days when you could find a quality working bargain for under $1,000 — even aged models with high miles may command $5,000 or more.

New car prices are averaging close to $30,000, one important reason why many people are opting for a used car. Such models may have been a dealer test with just a few hundred miles on the odometer or may be a neighbor’s vehicle that is five years old or older, but in good shape. Regardless, there are some steps you will need to take to find the right second hand car.

1. Know car prices — You can find out what any car is worth by visiting Kelley Blue Book at KBB.com and plugging in some information. Those details include the year, make and model of a car, its engine and transmission, amenities, its condition and the miles on its odometer.

2. Set a budget — What can you afford to pay for a used car? If you have $5,000 cash, then your budget is limited to cars valued for that amount or less. If you plan to finance a car, then you can put some money down and pay off the remainder over the next 12 to 48 months. Determine a monthly payment and seek financing through your credit union or bank.

3. Search for a car — Check your local Craigslist listing for cars as well as newspaper advertisements, eBay, supermarket bulletin boards or stop by a used car dealership. Test drive every car that you are considering buying and listen carefully for sounds that are out of the ordinary. These may include wheels that chatter when you turn the steering wheel, a belt that squeals when your turn on the ignition or an exhaust pipe that sounds like it has a hole in it. junkyards near me

4. Inspect the car — Check out the interior, inspect the exterior, lift the hood and crawl underneath the car to inspect it. Signs of rust shouldn’t appear in any car less than 10 years old — it may be a salvaged vehicle. Look at the tires and inspect for wear and age. Take note of the paint, molding and trim. Lift the hood and check the battery, belts, hoses, fluids and engine. Examine the cabin, looking signs for water seepage, torn seats, a cracked dashboard and odd smells.

5. Get a CarFax report — Most every car on the road today has a CarFax report that offers details about its maintenance history. It will also reveal if the car has been flood damaged, retitled or has been in a major accident. A small investment for a very valuable report.

6. Get a professional opinion — Swallow your pride and take your car to your mechanic and have him look at your car. You’ll pay him $50 on up to have him look at your vehicle, examining major components, its electrical system, exhaust system and other parts of your car for signs of wear and tear. Even if a car is in good shape, he can tell you what repairs you’ll face in the next 5,000 miles or six months, for example.

7. Negotiate with confidence — Used car prices are negotiable. With the facts in hand, you know what the car is worth and should offer a price based on what you’re willing to pay. Explain to the seller what repairs may be needed and share what you have learned about the car’s value if you think that it is overpriced. Finding a middle ground can help both parties come away with a deal that each one thinks is fair.

Once your deal has been finalized, make payment and have the title transferred to your name. If the car is being financed, the title will be held by the financing company. Visit your DMV and pay related fees and taxes. Obtain your registration and license plates. Contact your insurance company and have your car insured

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