Buying a Used Car
Before getting your own car, it pays to do some homework. Think about what you need, what the car will be used for, and your budget. Look in books and online and think about repair costs, safety tests, mileage etc. All this research can save you some serious money and help you avoid being ripped off. Once you’ve chosen the car you want, you have to decide how you are going to pay for it. You can pay the whole amount upfront or you can finance the purchase over time.
If you do use financing, you should be aware that this increases the total cost of the car as you must pay for the car plus the credit. Once you have decided on how much you can put down, you can look at the annual percentage rate (APR) of the loan and the length of the loan and see how much your monthly payments will be. Generally speaking, the shorter the term of the loan, the higher the APR. If you are in your teens, cosigning with your parents will help you to get a better rate. You may also want to think about paying in cash for a less expensive car.
Dealer or Private Sale? This is an important decision to make. If you buy from a dealer you will generally pay more. But you will benefit from knowing that if there is a problem you can return to the dealer to complain. Many dealers offer warranties and guarantee the quality of the car. On the other hand, buying from an individual will offer less security as the car will generally be sold as is, which means you must bare the cost of any problems that later arise. You also cannot go back and complain to an individual if something they told you turns out to be untrue. That said, buying from an individual can often offer very good value. First of all, they will not add a mark up on the price, which is what a dealer would do if he had bought it first. Also, if you bring along your own mechanic, or someone who knows about cars, you can have it checked out to make sure everything looks ok. Before you buy the car, make sure you examine it with an inspection checklist.
Get a good test drive over varied road conditions and be sure to get the car’s maintenance record. It is also worth having the car inspected by a mechanic if you have serious concerns about it. Finally, before you buy, make sure you are ready to meet all the associated costs of having the car. These include insurance, fuel, maintenance and repairs.