It’s universally known that a brand new car drops in the value of up to 30% immediately after purchase. For this reason and the cost savings achievable, many potential car buyers opt for used cars instead. If you have made a similar decision, you’ve most probably begun your search by going to a dealership, used-car retailer, browsed online marketplaces or even considered private-party sellers. With numerous options available, finding the right used car can be overwhelming.
Let us take the hassle out of finding the perfect car with this 6 step guide:
Step 1: Think about your needs
Evaluate what you really need from a car in a realistic manner instead of picking a car based on what’s trending or simply for the way it looks. Kick-start your rationale by asking yourself the following questions:
- What are your crucial needs: Do you need a cheap car to run or ample space for your growing family?
- What type of driving will you be doing: Is it for short distance driving or longer highway journeys?
- What kinds of conditions and terrains will you be driving on?
- Do you need a huge boot: Do you need room for things such as sports gear, work equipment or a baby stroller?
- Will you be considering an eco-friendly car: Would hybrid or electric cars be an option in this case?
Step 2: Set your budget
Fix a realistic budget with a buffer for unexpected additional costs, remembering that the purchase price of your used car is just the start. If you choose to take a loan, the rule of thumb is for the payment to be not more than 20% of your take-home pay, in addition, be prepared to fork out a further 10% for ongoing costs like insurance, road tax, fuel, servicing, and toll.
Evaluate these points that have been worked out by car experts when setting your budget:
- Smaller engines are less costly.
- Cars that run on petrol tend to be cheaper than diesel.
- Manual cars are cheaper than automatic.
- Hybrid cars are cheap to run, but cost more to buy.
- Smaller cars are cheaper to insure.
- Prices are determined by where you’re shopping. Private-party cars will usually have the lowest selling price.
Step 3: Do your research
Never rush into a purchase but instead take advantage of the abundant sources of information available to you. New car reviews will not be able to tell you how a car performs after a few years and kilometres under its belt, for this reason, you should:
- Seek advice from your circle of friends and family, join online car forums, read current owners personal experiences or search for expert reviews.
- Keep a lookout for news on the recall of a particular car make and model you are after due to defects.
- For the best chance of finding your dream used car, compare between more than one brand by making a list of at least three used cars that meet your needs and fall within your budget. MUV will give you a sense of what used cars are available within your price range.
Step 4: Book a test-drive and take a closer look
A test–drive is the ideal way to decide if the car is the right make and model for you as well as a way to evaluate the used car’s condition. Having said that, starting the engine and taking the car for a 5-minute spin is not adequate, instead, you should drive the car like you already own it. This is what you should assess during the test-drive:
- Your senses: The car should be smooth and quiet. Look at the tires, how old are they? Is there enough tread left? Do you smell gas or burning oil?
- Comfort: Is your driving position comfortable with enough headroom and legroom? Get a feel of the back seat too.
- Controls: Test the indicators and windshield wipers. Does the air-conditioning blow cold? Do the headlights and brake lights work?
- Handling and brakes: Make sure the car responds when you push the accelerator or brakes.
If you like the car after the test-drive, it’s time to call in the experts and have an independent mechanic conduct a thorough inspection. Chances are the car would have been previously officially inspected, so ask to see the documentation if possible.
Step 5: Get the best deal
You’re now getting closer to owning your dream used car, however, to get the best deal possible requires negotiation, a step dreaded by many who think it’s a lengthy process. Rest assured this does not have to be the case because with steps 3 and 4 completed you have all you need for the negotiation process.
- A quick search online would give you an estimate of the car’s market value, with figures differing slightly with respect to the year of manufacture and condition of the car.
- If there were no notable defects from the inspection, begin by suggesting a reasonable price below the asking price to which the seller will accept, decline or suggest another figure.
- If there were defects, use the cost to fix them as a reason to bring the selling price down.
Step 6: Time to drive home your car
As the excitement of owning your dream used car draws closer, ensure all the paperwork is in order to avoid any after sale complications. Here is what you need to do:
- Have the title and registration transferred to you correctly. Only after the car has been registered under your name and confirming that there are no outstanding loans or warrants, should you make the payment for your purchase.
- If you purchase a car with an outstanding loan, you need to check the background or history of the car. This can be done at your local department of motor vehicles.
- Whether you buy from a dealer or a private party, make sure you have insurance for the car before you drive it away.
Now that all the paperwork is done, it’s time to enjoy your new purchase.
Lastly, don’t forget that the MUV team is eagerly awaiting to answer any questions you might have in regards to owning your dream used car.
*Photos are courtesy of Google Image Search