Some of the most fun and yet most stressful times can be purchasing a used car. Some of us know what we want, while others have no clue what they are looking for. Used car sales are among some of the most profitable businesses in America, and yet many people still have no clue what to look (or listen) for. With thousands of used car lots, and the uprising of Craigslist, Auto Trader and other sell it yourself websites; there is no shortage in used vehicles. Let us go over some do's and do not's when looking at and purchasing used vehicles.
Do your research. I've found even just looking online at prices for just a couple hours a week can dramatically raise your awareness of going rates. It will by no means make you an expert, but the more you know, the better off you will be. Check prices, reviews, recalls and even where the vehicle is located. Services such as Car Fax can be helpful, but are not 100% effective against scams or dishonest people. Remember, if the person seams despite, and the price seems too good to be true, it usually is.
Don't be afraid of getting under the hood and under the vehicle. You don't necessarily need to know exactly what you're looking at, but if you have done your research on the particular vehicles you're interested in, you'll be able to ask the owner or salesman questions that might catch them off guard.
Test drives will tell you a lot, but remember, it's just a sample. Temporary band aids can hide major problems that will end up costing you more money than you might be willing to spend. Look and listen for any rattles, clunks, pinging, clanking or anything that doesn't sound like its normal. Never assume these sounds are normal. Even if the person says, its normal for this vehicle. Question it, and do more research.
Look for puddles, drips or leaks under the vehicle. Unless its snow or rain running off the side of the vehicle, there isn't a good explanation for any sort of puddle or drip under a vehicle. Again, question it, and do research.
Negotiate the price. If they disclosed or you noticed issues with the vehicle, feel free to haggle. If you did the proper research, you will have an idea of what is wrong, what it will cost and you can use that to your benefit. Don't be afraid to bring up problems you see. After all, it's you who may have to live with them.
Don't feel obligated to purchase any vehicle just because you looked at it or test drove it. There is nothing wrong with "sleeping on it". It gives you more time to do research, talk to people who have gone through the same problem, and haggle. A good used vehicle will practically sell itself, and the cream always rises to the top.
Hopefully these pointers will help in the future. The main point when dealing with used vehicles is the research. Knowledge is power folks!