Written by Lee Wyatt (last updated May 3, 2011)
We have all been through it before—the desire or need to purchase a new vehicle. You sit down and start to do your research; the model comparisons, the insurance costs, and so forth. Then it hits you, that most dreaded of subjects—personal finances. Suddenly, for a plethora of reasons, you find you cannot afford a new car. Such reasons could include:
Whatever the final reason is, you have decided to purchase a used car instead of a new one. Well, now that this decision has been made, what does the savvy shopper do next?
Buying a used car is similar in process to buying a new car; it can be similarly daunting. The first thing to keep in mind is that you can, in fact, do this. Perhaps the hardest part will be doing your research and deciding on the make and model of car you want to purchase. Now all you need to do is just a little more research on the basic cost of your vehicle. To do this pick up your trusty guide—the Kelly Blue Book. Using a trusted source such as the Kelly Blue Book will help you determine what a "fair" price is for the vehicle you want. Armed with this vital information you are ready to face the next step—selecting a used car dealer.
This is possibly one of the single most important steps, and it is also one of the easiest to accomplish. Before selecting your dealer, ask your friends and family if they know any reputable used-car dealers that they would recommend. Write down any names that are given to you, and do a little investigating. You might even call the Better Business Bureau to find out what their professional reputation is and if there have been any complaints made against them.
Upon gathering this information, you are ready for your next step: reconnaissance. I strongly suggest that you wait till a Sunday or late at night to make your first visit to the dealer. Most car dealers are closed during these times, so you won't be bothered as you take a look around the dealer's lot. Take a look around and ask yourself some simple questions. Are the cars clean? Do they look to be in good condition? How about the facility? Does it look to be well maintained and presentable? If the answer to these and similar questions are all in the positive, you may have found the dealer to go to.
After completing these steps, go to the dealer when they are open and start your shopping. As always, take your homework with you as well as a friend (that way you can be positively reinforced, and resist any high pressure sales pitches). Be sure to keep in mind your goals and limits. Your preparation will help you to have the best possible experience as you purchase a used car.
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