If you don’t want to take on the financial burden of a brand-new car, it’s a good idea to consider buying a used vehicle. Pre-owned cars give you far more bang for your buck. However, in order to get the best possible deal, you must do a little legwork. The extra effort will help you to make a solid choice. Here are some valuable tips on buying a used ride.

Shop Less Popular Brands

When shopping for a used vehicle, a lot of people tend to go for the most popular brands. However, you stand to save more money by choosing a less trendy brand — the demand for vehicles produced by Toyota and Honda is always high, sellers aren’t as flexible when it comes to pricing. Although automakers such as Mitsubishi may not sell as many vehicles, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give them a chance. In terms of the number of features offered, there’s not much difference between today’s car manufacturers. It simply comes down to a matter of preference.

Have a Budget

Before you even begin to search for a vehicle, be sure to first set a budget. You certainly don’t want to put yourself in a tight spot financially. Consider the amount of money that you typically bring in every year. According to experts, the payments for a vehicle shouldn’t exceed 15 percent of your monthly income. While the actual price of the automobile is important, there are other things to think about as well. Some of the extra costs include insurance, maintenance, and fuel. Stay away from vehicles that you truly can’t afford in the long run. An affordability calculator is a valuable tool that will help you to develop a sound budget.

Take a Close Look at the Car

A wide range of different vehicles are on today’s used market. While some drivers are lured by the exciting performance of a sports car, others love the ruggedness of a 4X4 pickup truck. However, you should choose a vehicle that suits your lifestyle the best. Although you may be in love with a certain vehicle, take a good look at what it brings to the table. For example, a two-door coupe is not an ideal choice for the drivers who must accommodate their family. If you plan to drive the vehicle on an everyday basis, comfort becomes a big factor.

Do Your Research on the Car

Buying a car without doing any research is a recipe for disaster. It’s in your best interest to read online reviews posted by owners. This will give you a great deal of insight on the vehicle. You’ll be able to find out important details such as common problems and overall owner satisfaction. Visiting car forums will also help you to learn more about the vehicle. The last thing you want is to buy a vehicle that tends to be unreliable. Backyard mechanics will also be interested in how easy the vehicle is to work on.

Obtain a Vehicle History Report

For a minimum cost, you can get a car history report. It’s well worth the money. You may also be able to find a free history report on the car depending on the site. A comprehensive report will alert you to any previous accidents. Although a minor fender bender shouldn’t be a deal breaker, avoid cars that have been involved in a major crash. Cars damaged in an accident are far more likely to give you trouble. Most importantly, the safety of the car could be compromised. Even if you are getting an amazing deal, don’t buy a vehicle that was damaged in a flood or fire.

A car history report will also give you an indication of how well the vehicle was maintained. Automobiles that have a lengthy service record are usually in better condition.

Ask Questions

Don’t be afraid to ask the seller any questions. Your goal should be to gather as much information as possible. If the seller gets upset about your curiosity, this is a definite red flag. Pay especially close attention to the vehicle’s title and try to shy away from cars that have a salvage title — this means that it was involved in a collision or damaged in a natural disaster. The title also needs to be in the seller’s name. You’ll be surprised by the shady tactics that some people will use. To help you stay on track, write down a list of questions to ask beforehand. While some car shoppers like to discuss information over the phone, it’s better to talk in person.

Test Drive with a Mechanic

One of the most important aspects of buying a used car is the test drive. You’ll be able to experience how the vehicle actually performs in the real world. Although a vehicle may look stunning on the surface, it could have some hidden issues. Don’t hesitate to enlist the services of an experienced automotive technician. Get the mechanic to accompany you on the test drive. From the engine to the interior electronics, everything needs to be inspected for potential problems. The extra peace of mind will enable you to buy with confidence.

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This article was worked on by a variety of people from the Autoversed team, including freelancers, editors, and/or other full-time employees.