If you are in the market for a new car for yourself, or you are helping someone that you know look for a new car, you may also be considering shopping for a used car. Buying a used car is a very cost-effective and exciting choice, however, it does require thorough research to ensure that you are carefully considering each factor and getting the most for your money. If you are not sure how to navigate shopping for a used car, we have got you covered!

Check out some tips on how you can best shop for a used car, finding the best option that suits both your needs and budget.

Shop used cars

1 – Know what you are looking for, and what you can afford.

Before you begin your search, as you would with any type of car you are purchasing, you must be aligned on what it is that you are looking for and what your budget looks like. Defining your requirements will help to streamline the entire process!

Consider factors such as the car’s purpose, what the seating capacity should look like based on your day-to-day lifestyle, as well as how many people are in your family, fuel efficiency, as well as your preferred features. Make sure that your checklist of “must-haves”for a used car is feasible given the budget that you are working with. As you are figuring out what it is that you want, be as clear as possible about your needs versus your wants to help yourself narrow down the options.


2 – Do your research!

Next, it is time to begin your used car research. Take a look at various car models and brands that fit your criteria, while also considering factors such as reliability, maintenance costs, as well as safety ratings. You can often find great research through car review websites, owner forums, as well as reliability reports and simply learning via word of mouth. Knowing the reputation of different car brand and models can greatly help to speed up your research process.


3 – Know the vehicle’s history.

Think you found a prospect? Once you have looked around and think you might have a good option in terms of a used car, be sure that you obtain the vehicle identification number (VIN) and run a vehicle history report. If you are not working with a professional, you can learn the history through services such as AutoCheck or Carfax, which can reveal crucial information about ownership history, past accidents, title status, as well as the maintenance records of the car. When you are shopping for a used car, you want to ensure that it has as clean a history report as possible and that it will be reliable for you.


4 – Check out the car in person and do your own inspection.

Before making a purchase, it is important that you see the car in person, so you are able to conduct your own personal, thorough inspection. Arrange a meeting with the seller or take a trip to the dealership to inspect the car. When you are inspecting the car, examine both the exterior as well as the interior and check for any signs of damage, such as wear or rust.

Once you have inspected the car, be sure to also take it for a test-drive to assess its performance, handling, and comfort. During the test drive, pay attention to how it runs, any warning lights that may come on, unusual sounds that you might hear, or any vibrations that may indicate a form of damage. It is also a good idea to have a mechanic conduct a pre-purchase inspection, so you are also getting a qualified and professional opinion.


5 – Negotiate the price and finalize the paperwork!

If all looks good, it is time to negotiate the price. Do your research so you are aware of the market value of similar vehicles and use this information to negotiate a fair price for both you and the seller. Once aligned on a price, carefully review all paperwork to make sure that the title is clear and properly transferred, and that the contract includes all agreed-upon terms.