What should you look for when buying a used car?

Buying a used car is a great option for drivers who want an affordable vehicle without sacrificing safety or quality. With all the options available, it’s hard to know where to start to ensure a used car is the right fit for you. In this article, we’ll walk you through what to look for when buying a used or preowned car.

What is the condition of the user car you are looking at?

There are many factors to consider when shopping for a used car. You’ll want to make sure the car is in good condition, which depends on factors like:

  • The car’s mileage 
  • The age of the car
  • The car’s maintenance and/or accident history
  • The condition of the interior (like the upholstery, carpet and floor mats)
  • Any exterior flaws like dents, scratches or rust

You should also take the car for a test drive to make sure it drives properly. Pay attention to how the transmission shifts, how the brakes perform and how the car handles overall. You should also test features like the brake lights, headlights and turn signals. 

Keep in mind that the condition of a used car not only affects its cost, but your auto insurance rates as well. For example, a car with an accident history and high mileage will be more expensive to insure because insurance companies will see it as riskier to cover.

How much does the used car cost?

When shopping for a used car, the cost is likely top of mind. Remember the “sticker price,” or the price advertised by the dealership or seller, doesn’t usually reflect the true price of the car, as additional fees will be added during the purchasing process. The cost will also vary by make and model. For example, cars that are higher in demand or have desirable features, like hybrids, will cost more than basic, widely available makes and models.

To make sure the cost of the used car you’re considering is fair, you can compare it against the price for the same make, model and year at different sellers and dealerships. You can also use car shopping comparison and research tools like Kelly Blue Book to make sure you’re getting a good value.

Advantages of Buying a Used Car

The advantages of buying a used vs. new car are primarily financial. Used cars will typically be less expensive and have lower auto insurance rates and annual registration fees than brand-new cars. And, for most used cars, the majority of depreciation has already occurred, making them a better investment than a brand-new vehicle.

Disadvantages of Buying a Used Car

While buying a used car is a cost-effective option, there are still some disadvantages. You’ll typically have less choice in make, model and features than you would when shopping for a brand-new car. A used car will also have existing wear and tear, so it may need more maintenance or repairs than a new car. Used cars are also not required to have a warranty, while new cars are, meaning you may be on the hook for costly repairs a warranty would normally cover, like a broken air conditioning system or transmission.

Final Steps When Buying a Used Car

Once you’ve decided on a used car, you’re ready for the final steps.

Confirm the price. You’ll usually have to negotiate with the seller or dealership to decide on the car’s final price. Make sure you have a budget in mind and be prepared to stick to it. If you plan to finance the car, it helps to have financing pre-approved before you negotiate. 

Transfer the car’s registration and title. You’ll need to complete the paperwork to transfer the car’s ownership to you. The requirements for this process vary by state, so make sure you know what forms and documents you need before you reach this step.  

Update your auto insurance. Once you’ve purchased the car and have transferred the title and registration, make sure you update your auto insurance policy as soon as possible.

Shopping for a used car? Let SelectQuote help you find the auto insurance coverage that works best for you.

Updating or purchasing auto insurance when you buy a used car helps keep you protected once you hit the road. Our experienced SelectQuote licensed insurance agents can help answer any questions about auto insurance coverage for your new-to-you vehicle. We search highly-rated carriers in just minutes, making sure you’ll find the right coverage for your new car quickly and efficiently so you can keep driving with peace of mind.

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