Since new cars depreciate when you drive them off of the lot, many people find purchasing used cars to be an attractive option. However, finding a dependable used car can sometimes be a challenge. Follow these steps to find a used car that’s right for you and your budget.
Step 1: How Much Car Can You Afford?
A general guideline is that your monthly car payment should not be more than 20% of your take-home pay. Visit the LGWFCU.com resource page for an auto loan calculator to determine what you can afford.
Step 2: Check Prices and Reviews
Once you’ve determined your dream car, get online and learn about the car’s reliablity, gas mileage, features and more. User reviews can offer insight into unexpected expenses of which you might not be aware.
Step 3: Locate Used Cars in Your Area
Online classified ads such as Edmunds.com, AutoTrader.com, eBay Motors.com, CarGurus.com and Craigslist allow for photo tours and detailed information about the car. There are, of course, many places to shop for a used car, such as independent used car lots, the used car section of a new car dealership and, more recently, used car superstores like CarMax.
Step 4: Check the Vehicle History Report
You should get a vehicle history report for the car you’re interested in buying. This is an essential step. If the report is negative, you should not go any further with this car. You can access vehicle history reports by the vehicle identification number (VIN) and even by license plate. AutoCheck and Carfax are the two best-known sources for vehicle history reports.
Step 5: Test Drive
Test driving a used car not only tells you if this is the right car for you but also if this particular car is in good condition. On the test drive, simulate the conditions of your normal driving patterns. If you do a lot of highway driving, be sure to take the car up to at least 65 mph. If you regularly go into the mountains, test the car on a steep slope.
Step 6: Inspect the Vehicle
If you like the way the car drives, you should have it inspected by a trusted mechanic before you negotiate to buy it. A pre-purchase inspection can save you thousands of dollars.
Step 7: Negotiate Your Best Deal
Negotiating with a private-party seller can be a quick and fairly relaxed process. Negotiating with a used-car salesman will take longer and can be stressful. Keep these tips in mind.
- Make sure your opening offer that is low, but in the ballpark.
- Decide ahead of time how high you will go and leave when you reach your limit.
- Always be prepared to walk out: This is your strongest negotiating tool.
- Don’t be distracted by dealer pitches for items like extended warranties or anti-theft devices.
Step 8: Contact Your Credit Union for Financing
One of the benefits of your LG&W Federal Credit Union membership is the advantage of low interest car rates. Throughout the month of October 2017, we offer some of the lowest rates you can find at 1.99% APR for models from 2008 and up. Make sure you’re not overpaying every month by simply contact LG&W Federal Credit Union to learn which rate your qualify for.
Our BALANCE Financial Guide is dedicated to helping you balance life’s important decisions.