Used Car Checklist

Know your needs

  • Will you be able to handle a vehicle that has a lot of miles on the engine already, or is a low-miles vehicle a need for you?
  • Gas consumption is a big deal now, so decide if that really matters to you.
  • Make up your mind as to why body style of vehicle you want; is it a sedan, van or a sport coupe?
  • What type of support will you get from the place that you are purchasing the vehicle from? Some owners require a lot, others require very little, but it is a consideration.

Know your wants

  • In other words, once you think you've decided on a car, check out everything there is to know about it, such as recalls and mileage.
  • Flexibility in what you want will be important, because not all used cars have everything.
  • Take the time to look around at more than one place; you'll be surprised at the differences in prices.
  • Decide what is most important to you in a vehicle, if you absolutely can't have it all.

Where to buy

  • Not only is word of mouth a good way to find out about dealerships' integrity, but so is the Better Business Bureau, their own websites, and the local Chamber of Commerce.
  • Quite often, you will find that searching Internet sites for salvage or auction sites will lead to great deals for a car that you might want.
  • Most of time, being wary of private sellers is a wise thing, unless you know them well and trust them implicitly.
  • Great deals can be found at auctions, but auction houses do not always have mechanics on hand to do an adequate inspection, so getting car here is risky.

Absolute musts

  • Know what the lemon laws are in your state, and keep track of them, just in case something happens if you buy the used car.
  • Don't ever buy a used vehicle without this, or a similar report so that you know about the vehicle's past history regarding wrecks, water damage, etc.
  • Yes, take someone that is experienced in used cars along with you, and can give you a clue if what you're looking at is a heap of junk or not.
  • Take the vehicle to your own trusted mechanic for an inspection, it will be worth the extra money you're spending, even if you don't buy the vehicle.
  • Treat the buying of the used car as a fine dining experience, and seriously look over everything you can about the vehicle that you can.
  • Find out ahead of time what the warranty from the dealer, or seller is. Your lender may require one if you are using a private lender.

Beware

  • No matter what you do, don't let a salesperson make you feel so pressured into buying a used car, that you feel you must buy it or else. You will regret it.
  • Developing an emotional attachment to a vehicle before you buy it is an absolute no-no.
  • Whatever you do, don't go into a used-car shopping expedition as if you're going to a fast food restaurant.

Financing

  • Pay attention to the deals that the dealership is offering, write them down if necessary.
  • Shop around between banks, and other private lenders in comparison to the dealership, and see who can give you the best deal.
  • Remember, private sellers generally can't do financing, and prefer their money up front, so be prepared to just hand over the money.
  • If you have the right amount of cash on hand, then go ahead and use it; by using cash, the title transfer is done immediately.
  • Don't buy the first car you see.

Checklists for buying used cars are an extremely useful tool, especially to prevent being taken advantage of by car salesmen.  Safety is a big deal though, when it comes to buying a used car.  When taken care of properly by previous owners, used cars are beautiful things to own. Used car checklists are created to help buyers from getting stuck with something that they can't get rid of.  There has been far too many buyers that have been stuck with a lemon, or a bad car.  Using a checklist to go over different systems will prevent a lemon from going back out on the road. Creating the checklist is not hard, with some thought and help from a good mechanic.  Start out by listing the things that you want in a car.  Talk to a mechanic about what to look for when observing the car.  Using the mechanic's comments, start to build a checklist. Checklist of things to look for to avoid getting a lemon:

Tips

Compile a checklist of basic car systems.  Electrical, heating and air, tires and brakes; these are a few good examples to start out with.  Once you have all of the basic systems listed, know what to look for when checking out the vehicle. Do remember to include the research you've done on dealerships and finances on your checklist.  If you have checked out and considered Internet purchases, be sure to have a separate checklist for each of those cars.  Mechanical inspections are an absolute must by an outside mechanic, not just the dealer's mechanic.  Finally, a CarFax report, or something similar, to show you proof of any previous accidents with previous owners is also a must.