10 Steps to Buying a Pre-Owned Car
If you’re interested in buying a pre-owned vehicle, here is a list of 10 steps from Mike Burch Ford that will help you to locate, price, negotiate?and buy the used car you want.
Step 1: Set Your Price Limit
A general guideline is that your monthly car payment should be no more than 20 percent of your take-home pay. However, seeing your dream car on the lot can blind you to the price tag. That's why calculating how much car you can afford before you fall in love on a test drive can save you from falling into debt. Once you have your price range set, finding the right car will be a much simpler process.
Step 2: Create a List of Car Models
To get more car for your money, Mike Burch Ford suggests you consider buying a less popular model that is still reliable. You may like the style of a Ford Mustang or Excursion, but a Focus might meet your needs as well as your budget. With this in mind, build a target list of three different cars that would be a good match for you. You could also consider buying a certified pre-owned (CPO) car or vehicle with an extended service plan. Both CPO and Extended service plans provide failure coverages after the time of sale for different periods depending on the vehicle and the plan purchased.
Step 3: Check Prices and Reviews
To see if the cars you are looking at fit your budget, research what other people in your area are paying for that car. You can find all the information online that you need to make a good buying decision: pricing, reviews, specs, fuel economy and lists of standard features.
Step 4: Search your Area for Deals
Begin searching for the cars on your target list. Pay attention to factors such as distance, mileage, price and features to find exactly the car you want. Pictures are a necessity these days, so make sure the car you purchase or call about has been pictured so YOU can see the vehicle without leaving your desk. Often times pictures are more descriptive than words.
Step 5: Check the Vehicle History Report
When you find a used car that looks like it might be a winner, don’t start negotiating until you check the vehicle history report. This is an essential first step. If there has been an accident in the car’s history do not necessarily write this vehicle off. The history report will tell you the extent of the damage ranging from minor fender bender to major damage/air bags deployed, etc. Major damage may have been repaired in a quality manner, and it may still a good car but needs to be inspected closely. In addition, we believe that major damage typically should discount the value of the car from 10% to 15%. 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. These reports can reveal vital information about the used car, including whether it has a salvage title, which means it has been declared a total loss by the insurance company, or if the odometer has been rolled back. While vehicle history reports typically show open recalls, you also can check by entering a car's VIN in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's free VIN Look-up Tool.
Step 6: Call the Dealer