At $30,000 for an average new vehicle many of us are looking at pre-owned vehicles that can bring better value for the dollar. Although this is a great way to save money up front it is important to do your research before you buy a car that will only give you headaches.
The first thing you should ask yourself is why did the previous owner give up their new car. Many times new car owners trade in their vehicles prior to the warranty running out others just need a change of transportation that better fits new things going on in their life.
On the other hand you may find that a previous owner was getting rid of a headache. It can be difficult to impossible to track down maintenance information but online carfax companies can give you some information about the history of the car you are looking at.
What To Look For in a Vehicle History Check
One of the first things you want to look at when you get your vehicle history report is previous accidents or claims filed to an insurance company. Most records will not tell you the extent of the damage in detail but you may be able to read what part of the vehicle was hit such as the left front or side… you will also be able to see if the car was retitled as a salvage vehicle.
Only persons that have serious knowledge of vehicles should consider a salvage vehicle. Often when a car becomes too damaged to repair used parts can restore the vehicle to a safe and inspectable condition however the work must be performed in a professional manner.
You never want to consider a salvage vehicle that has been repaired by the owner. ALWAYS DEMAND REPAIR INVOICES you want to know who did the work and how much work was done.
If there was welding or frame straightening performed then you must have the vehicle inspected before you buy it.
If the vehicle was in a flood or had water damage then the electrical system could need total replacement. Never purchase a vehicle that has had salt water damage as it will rust from the inside out.
Valuing Your Used Car Purchase
Every used vehicle must be priced individually. Blue Book values should only be a starting place. Anyone but a certified dealer of that make and model car should give you an additional discount. So, if you buy a honda at a chevy dealer think of it just as you would buying on in a field on the side of the road.
Certified vehicles by the original manufacturer can provide you with some piece of mind. They are likely to inspect parts of the car that they know go bad and they will be required to fix any recalls that may have occurred prior to the sale. A warranty should also be provided for any vehicle under 5 years or 100,000 miles.
Adding the repairs you must make should include labor and a markup for your trouble.
If you see that the car needs all new tires that will cost $300 then value that at $400 when you deduct it from the asking price. Sure you will pay $300 but it will also mean you taking a day to get the work done. Similar costs should be applied to all repairs.
Finally even if you think the asking price the seller is requesting is exactly correct you have to add in all of your other costs such as licensing, inspection, registration. The cost to get your new vehicle inspected and on the road may be a few hundred dollars. Sure this is something everyone should have to pay but … when you buy a new house don’t you split the closing costs?
In the end the amount you are willing to pay may be short of what the seller is willing to accept.
Consider this a good thing because you just learned how much your car is really worth and what you should pay for it.
If the vehicle is so rare that you may not see a similar one in the next few months then you can adjust your price. However if you are purchasing a very common vehicle an F150 or a Honda Civic move on to search for a better deal but tell the owner of the car you are looking at that your offer is good until you find something else.
You may get a call back in a few days from your seller saying they are willing to take your offer. If not someone else will.
Valuing a used vehicle is very difficult and often owners of vehicles form an attachment thinking that their car is worth more then you are willing to pay. Just because they spent $500 on a big sticker of a Chinese letter for Fast and stuck it on the side or added some window tint that you will have to pay hundreds of dollars to remove..
Remember you are buying a car for you to drive and any thing you need to fix needs to be accounted for in your offer.