Buying a used car is a great option for the cost conscious and just because you are buying used doesn’t mean you will get stuck with a lemon.

Here are some tips for buying your first used car:

Shop around – There are lots of ways you can research potential cars and it is a good idea to spend some time doing this. It will help you to understand what kind of cars are in your price range and what to expect when you get out and start viewing. You can start by researching online.

Budget – Set your budget and stick to it. Knowing what you can afford will help you refine your search.

Hidden costs – When you are doing your budget think about all the other costs that you may have to pay including insurance, pre vehicle inspection registration and warrant. Also think about how much you can afford to pay in petrol, this may influence the kind of car you choose.

What are your options? – Now that you know how much you can spend and have an idea of the kinds of cars in your price range you can start to test out your options.

Test driving – When test driving a used car it pays to take someone with you that knows their stuff. Someone who will be able to ask the questions you don’t know to ask and someone who can assess the car based on the test drive.

The fun stuff – Test drive a number of different cars before making a decision. Test out a range of scenarios so you get a good feel for how the car handles.

Questions – When you have narrowed down your search to a few good options that is when you need to ask the more in-depth questions. Don’t be afraid to ask a lot of questions before considering buying a used car. If the dealer is reluctant to answer them then you know to move onto the next one. Things you will want to know include; how many previous owners, if it has been in any accidents, the mechanical history, does it have mechanics records of all work done, warrants and servicing records?
You might want to write down your list of questions so you don’t forget anything important.

Negotiation – If the car and dealer pass this test then it is time to think about negotiating a price. Get some advice from others on what they think is a good price i.e. parents. You could even bring someone along with you when going through this process.

Mechanical inspection – Any price that you negotiate will be dependent on an independent mechanical inspection. This is standard and the dealer should have no problem with this. This will cost you a few hundred dollars but is a must do before buying a used car. The independent inspector will check the mechanical and structural condition of the car and advise you of any issues. It is imperative to take the advice of the mechanical inspector, no matter how much you want the car.

Drive away – If the inspection goes smoothly you are ready to drive away. No matter how you’re buying the car, whether privately or through a dealer, make sure you get all the appropriate paper work to go with your car.

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