Are you looking to buy a used car? While used cars are typically cheaper than a car fresh off the manufacturing belt, there are a number of things to educate yourself on beforehand. The last thing you want to do is to buy a lemon or pay more than you should have.
Picking the right used car also makes it easier to find cheap car insurance for salvage cars. There are a number of additional things to consider other than just the initial price tag for a used car.
Before you hit the used car sales lot, read on for essential tips about the best way to shop for used vehicles.
What to Check When Buying a Used Car:
Car salespeople can overwhelm you with their pitches about cars, so you must know what to look for to weed out the good used cars from the bad.
While buying a used car can be one of the best ways to save money, you need to check the following things when shopping.
Table of contents:
- service history
- number of owners
- general condition
- personal preferences
- check the title and the vin
How many miles are on the vehicle? If the car is about 30,000 miles short of breaking down, it probably isn’t a good choice. Most people drive an average of 12,000 miles to 15,000 miles a year, so a five-year-old car should have about 60,000 miles to 75,000 miles on it.
If it has more, it means it was driven more than average and will have more wear and tear on it. So always look for the lowest mileage possible since a lower number means that the owner drove it less. And that of course, means you will be able to drive it for longer.
2 Service History
Was the car inspected every year, and did it pass? If there are any major issues with the car or past accidents, mechanics will record it on the vehicle’s service history. You want to go over the history to know if there will be any recurring issues from previous damage.
3 Number of Owners
How many owners did the car have? Generally, vehicles with fewer owners are better maintained than cars with multiple owners.
You also should check whether a car was owned by a smoker or non-smoker, as the last thing you want is to buy a car that smells like cigarette smoke if you don’t smoke yourself.
4 General Condition
Even if you aren’t a mechanic, you can still check the car over for scratches, dents, and rust. The tires should be in good condition, and there shouldn’t be any odd noises or smells when you test drive it.
Check the headlights, roll down the windows, and perform other basic yet essential checks to make sure everything is working.
5 Personal Preferences
Do you want leather seats? Cloth seats? While it may take you longer to find a car that meets your specifications, you ultimately want to end up with a car you love. So if something like leather seats are important to you, hold off until you find the perfect used car.
6 Check the Title and the VIN
Make sure that there is a title. Buying a car without a title will create a major headache for you later with additional paperwork. It is also a red flag that someone might have stolen the car, and the sale is dodgy.
While we recommend always buying through a certified dealership, checking the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), in addition to the vehicle title, will ensure that you aren’t buying a stolen vehicle.
You can check the VIN at the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), your insurer, or the DMV. They have a record of stolen vehicles and can run the VIN through their data.
In case you’re wondering, you can usually find this number on the windshield, driver’s door, and engine. If the VIN doesn’t match, this is an automatic red flag. So if you are buying a car off an ad in the paper, even if it’s sold by a sweet old grandma, always check the VIN.
If the vehicle is stolen, don’t confront the seller, even if you suspect they don’t know. The last thing you want is to get into an altercation with a possible criminal. Call law enforcement and report a possible stolen vehicle and let them handle the rest.
How to Get Cheap Insurance Rates for Used Cars:
Before you hit the used car lots and go through your used car checklist, you should do a bit of research first. The best way to find cheap insurance rates for a used car is to check both vehicle safety ratings as well as the safety features.
- Vehicle safety ratings – Check the safety ratings and crash test ratings of the make and model you want to buy. Even if you have to pay a little extra for a car with good ratings, it is worth it. Not only will you be better protected, but insurers generally offer cheaper rates for safer vehicles.
- Vehicle safety features – Features like a backup camera or lane departure warning may cost a little extra, but this can balance out with the discounts earned from your insurer. And if parallel parking gives you anxiety, you may want a backup camera anyways.
Of course, having a good driving record will also go a long way towards finding cheap car insurance rates for a used car. If you have a perfect driving record and a used car with good safety ratings, you should have cheap rates. If you don’t, the problem probably lies with your current insurer, and you should start looking for a new one. After all, saving on car insurance can help you budget as well as improve your credit.
Shopping for a used car doesn’t have to be daunting. As long as you take your time to do a little research and check basic things, you should be fine. Buying a good used car is a great way to save a little money, and you may even save on your insurance.
Rachel Bodine is an insurance expert who writes and researches for the auto insurance comparison site, AutoInsurance.org.
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