Know Your Options

Buying a used car can be a good way to save money on a vehicle. Although, if you’re not wise about purchasing a used car, it could cost you a lot more money in the long run. There are a lot of ways to go about buying a used car. You could buy a used car from a dealership, a used car superstore, an auction, or the previous owner. Each option has it’s pros and cons. Some are riskier than others, but will save you more money, and vise versa.

Auto Auctions: If you’re really trying to save as much money as possible, auctions are the way to do it. You’ve probably seen ads for auctions before. Auto auctions usually sell reposed vehicles, used cars, old government vehicles, and vintage fixer-uppers. The ultimate benefit to buying a car from an auction, is that you’ll save a ton of money. I have a buddy who picked up a refurbished police car for $800.00 from an auction! However, the biggest downside to buying from an auction, is once the car is your’s, it’s yours, period. What you SEE is what you get, and I mean that literally. When you’re at an auction, you get to see the car, and then place a bid. You don’t get to take it for a test drive, or have it inspected; you just look at it, bid on it, and it’s yours. If the car breaks a week later, you’re stuck with it.

Dealerships: Going to a used car dealership is a little bit safer of an option than buying a car from an auction, but you’re going to spend more money. Most used car dealerships, especially used car super centers, like Carmax, have there cars inspected. So, you at least know the car isn’t a total junker. However, you will have to deal with a salesperson, and you can expect to spend more money. If you’re dealing with a salesperson who is working on commission, it can work for or against you. On the bright side, you will be able to haggle over the price; however, on the downside, the salesperson might talk you into buying a lemon just to make the sale.

Previous Owner: Purchasing a used car directly from the previous owner can be the safest way to buy a used car if you’re smart about how you do it, and you’re a good haggler. The only downsides to buying a car from the previous owner, is that it may take you a long time to find a car you want, and you can’t always take their word on the car’s condition. It’s not like you can just show up and browse through a selection. If you find a person who is selling a car that you want, there are some precautions you can take to make sure its good. First, you can go online and run a background check on the vehicle via Carfax.com. Second, you could talk the owner into taking the car to your mechanic for an inspection before you buy it. Simply tell them that you are very interested in buying the car, but you would like to have it inspected by your mechanic before you buy it. The owner may not want you to have it looked at by your mechanic, out of fear that you will use this as a bargaining chip. In this case, offer to take it to a neutral, third-party mechanic. If they accept, pay a random auto shop to run a diagnostic on the car. If the car is in decent shape, you’re in the clear. If the car doesn’t check out, you’ve just saved yourself from a huge headache.

Before you buy a used car from anywhere or anyone, you should at least check it on Carfax.com. If you have bad luck with cars, don’t know anything about mechanics, don’t know any mechanics, and are bad at negotiating; I would not suggest buying a used car. You’re better off going to a dealership and buying a new car that you can afford. At least this way you will have a warranty on the car for a year or so.