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Buying a Used Car Tips

For many consumers, buying a used car is often more practical than buying a new car, especially when you have a tight budget or need to make a quick purchase. There are also risks associated with buying a pre-owned vehicle. The car may have mechanical problems not disclosed by the seller, or the vehicle may have been in an accident, meaning there was previous body damage.

Much like purchasing a new car, doing your homework ahead of time is the key to finding a reliable used vehicle at a fair price.

Step One

Get pre-approved so you know what you can afford. Once approved, you'll receive your Buyer's Check to give you maximum purchasing power.

Step Two

Consider how often and for what purpose you'll use your current vehicle and make a list of the features you'll need. If you have a family, you'll want to be sure there's enough room to fit everyone comfortably – now and in the future. Do you drive a lot? Gas mileage and horse power might influence your decision.

Step Three

Using the internet or resources at your local library or book store, start researching the makes and models of vehicles that fall into your criteria. If you already have a vehicle in mind, be sure it can meet your needs and then look into similar makes and models from competing manufacturers. You may find lower prices or better gas mileage on a different vehicle.

Step Four

Narrow your choices as much a possible and begin researching price using our FREE Vehicle Information Pricing (V.I.P) service. V.I.P. is an online resource that provides information on retail pricing, invoice cost, and other consumer information on new and used vehicles. Blue Books are also available at all of our branches.

Step Five

Locate your vehicle. Most likely, the vehicle you are looking for will come from another consumer, a used car lot, or a new car dealership. Most likely, the biggest risk will be with a purchase from another consumer, but that may also be your source for the lowest price.

Believe it or not, new car dealerships could be a better choice than you might expect. More and more automobile manufactures are now offering certified pre-owned programs through new car dealerships. These programs are not risk-free, but they have perks, including warranties that extend beyond the initial coverage and thorough inspections by certified mechanics.

Step Six

Test drive the vehicles that interest you and write down the vehicle identification numbers (VIN).

Step Seven

Conduct a CARFAX "lemon test." When you type in the VIN, CARFAX will generate a vehicle history report, which indicates whether the vehicle was ever considered "totaled," had flood damage, odometer problems, etc. If the vehicles you are considering pass the test, have them inspected thoroughly by a mechanic you trust for any current or potential damage or mechanical problems.

Step Eight

Negotiate your price based on what you feel you can afford and on the information compiled through our V.I.P resources. This is one of those times when doing your homework can really pay off.

Step Nine

Pay, sign the necessary paperwork and enjoy your used vehicle.