10 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Buying a Used Car

Buying a car used definitely gets you the most bang for your buck.  But as opposed to buying new, there are more pitfalls that can derail you along the way.  Knowledge is power – so here are the 10 most common mistakes when buying a used car, and how to avoid them.


1. Getting Emotional or Impulsive

It’s easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of emotion when shopping for a used car.  It’s fun!  It’s interesting!  Why not get that convertible?  Back up! Before you even begin to look at any used cars, you should write down a list of exactly what you need, and maybe a few thing that would be nice to have.  Then stick with that list.  Don’t browse for trucks if you are looking for an SUV or a car.  Don’t opt for bonus features you don’t really need.  Don’t get that convertible!  Figure out what your top priorities are and save yourself a lot of time while you are at it.


2. Limiting Your Search

Don’t just stay local, and don’t just browse vehicles in person.  The internet enables you to expand your search to vehicles outside your area and makes “window shopping” a breeze.  Most dealerships display their inventories online, allowing you to browse a large number of vehicles very easily.  If you find a vehicle that seems interesting but isn’t close, we recommend calling the seller before making the trip to make sure the vehicle is still available.  Which leads us to the next common mistake...


3. Not Asking the Right Questions

You can save yourself a lot of time by asking the right questions up front, especially if your dealing with a private seller.  When it comes to the vehicle itself, how old is it?  How many miles does it have?  If the vehicle is rather old, how easy will it be in the future to replace all the various parts?  Is there any kind of support or warranty that is provided?  If you are purchasing the vehicle via a private sale, does the seller possess the title and necessary inspection paperwork?  Asking the right questions at the beginning can help you avoid exerting any further energy on cars that do not meet your basic criteria.


4. Focusing Too Much on Price

Whether you are focusing exclusively on the selling price or are hyper-focused only on what the monthly payments will be, focusing too much on price can be a big mistake.  Sometimes a vehicle is cheap for a reason!  As the saying goes, if it sounds too good to be true it probably is.  On the other hand, if your only concern now is getting a low monthly payment, then you may be paying too much in the longer term.  If you can afford a slightly higher payment to reduce the length of the loan, you should consider taking it. 


5. Blowing Your Budget

The best way to bust your budget is to not clearly understand what it is in the first place.  If you are paying cash, this is relatively simple matter, although the threat of emotional attachment still persists. But with financing it’s a bit more complex.  Free online payment calculators can assist you with determining the car loan you can really afford, with an estimate of the monthly payments to be expected.  It is important to know your upper price limit and stick within it.


6. Not Doing Your Homework

Are you in a rush to buy a car?  Slow down!  Even your need is immediate, buying a used car, when done properly, does require a fair amount of research.  You need to find out everything you can about the car before you plunk down any cash for it.  Do not assume anything about the car.  Doing your homework involves the following:

Researching the vehicle online

Understanding the features of the vehicle

Reading and understanding the vehicle’s car history report, even if you have to order it yourself. 


Be prepared to find out displeasing information that you were not expecting and proceed accordingly.  Don’t ignore the red flags!  Also don’t be shy about reaching out to some of the “experts” that you can find them in online auto forums, to ask for advice. 


7. Skipping the Test Drive

Take a test drive is important.  Again, do not be presumptive when buying a used car.  Physically inspect the vehicle, as best you can with your untrained eye, and then take it for a drive. Don’t play the radio; listen to the car.  Not only will the test drive tell you a lot about the condition of the vehicle but will allow you to clearly envision yourself owning the car.  Is this the right car for you?  The test drive will help you decide. 


A second pair of eyes and ears with you on the test drive may see or hear things that you might miss.  Even better, we recommend taking the vehicle to a mechanic.  Not only will the mechanic inspect the vehicle for any damages, but also will take it for another test drive. And if you ask, the seller might be willing to pay for the inspection.


8. Negotiating Poorly

Here’s where doing your homework comes in handy.  The more you know about the vehicle, the more formidable a negotiating partner you will make.  Detailed knowledge of the vehicle can help you to effectively agree to a fair price for both parties.  Also, whenever possible, we recommend starting negotiations over the phone or via email, rather than in person.  This may give you more control over the interaction, enabling you to display your knowledge, and hopefully resulting in getting a better deal. 


9. Not Knowing Your Financing Options

If you think that your only options for purchasing a vehicle are dealer-assisted financing or paying cash in full, you are mistaken.  Dealer-assisted financing is certainly convenient especially if paying in full is simply not an option.  But if you don’t have the cash, and you do have a good credit rating, you may want to check with your bank or credit union to compare interest rates.  However, if your credit history is not good, financing from a pre-owned auto dealership may be a very viable option.  And knowing what your financing options are before engaging in negotiations can be beneficial.


10. Not Transferring Ownership Properly

Do you know what your state DMV requires to title and register your vehicle?  The requirements can be onerous if it’s a private sale.  You may even be required to bring the seller of the vehicle to the DMV with you.  But buying from a reputable dealership will eliminate those issues, as they will handle all the required paperwork for you.


At Best Buy Imports, you can be sure of getting a reliable vehicle, with a financing plan that’s within your budget, regardless of your personal credit situation.  All of our vehicles have been completely serviced and went through our comprehensive 99-point certification and safety inspection.  And every car, truck, and SUV we sell comes with a limited warranty to give you confidence in your purchase.  Be sure to check our extensive inventory of late-model, low-mileage vehicles.