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Used Car Buying Tips

If you’ve decided to buy a used car, you’re making a smart decision. You can get a vehicle that’s almost as good as a brand-new one. But, you won’t be paying for the depreciation that begins the moment you drive away from the car lot.

Want to sure you end up with a great vehicle and not someone else’s lemon? Here are some tips to remember, whether you’re buying it from a dealer or an individual.

First, before you go shopping, do your homework.

  • Find out value of the vehicle you’re interested in, before you negotiate the purchase.
  • Plan for the full cost of ownership. Research the costs and repairs and maintenance that you’re likely to need; auto-related consumer magazines can be a great source for this information.
  • Make sure the model hasn’t been involved in a recall.
  • Once you’ve found a car you like, don’t buy it before you do these things.

  • Go over the car thoroughly with an inspection checklist. You can find checklists for different types of cars on auto-buying websites and in books and magazines.
  • Get the back story. Ask the car’s owner for maintenance records; check with the dealer and repair shop, too.
  • Talk to the previous owner, especially if the current owner is unfamiliar with the car’s history.
  • Don’t be afraid to get a professional opinion. It’s a little extra cost up front, but hiring a mechanic to inspect the car can more than pay for itself in preventing problems and peace of mind.
  • Did you know that the Credit Union can help take the hassle out of buying a used car?
    The Credit Union’s Member Showroom simplifies that used car buying process. Here, you can research cars and see what others have paid for the car you want – so you know if you’re getting a good deal. And, it’s free for members! You’ll find auto loans with highly competitive rates.

    Even better, won’t have to haggle on pricing, because the Member Showroom gives you an upfront price. Once you’ve decided on a vehicle, you can connect with local certified dealers to schedule a test drive and confirm availability. You aren’t under any obligation to purchase.

    And, there you have it. You are all set to buy a used car. If you have any more questions or need more information please visit our website — bcu.org — and look for Life. Money. You™.

    For more information on used car buying, check out these other great resources.
    1. Find the value of used vehicles at these resources: National Automobile Dealers Association's (NADA) Guides, Edmunds and Kelley Blue Book.
    2. The U.S. Department of Transportation website safercar.gov lists automotive recalls
    3. To research the history of a particular vehicle, try the Department of Justice’s National Motor Vehicle Title Information System, which offers information about vehicle title, odometer data and certain damage history for a nominal fee. Also, the National Insurance Crime Bureau maintains a free database that includes flood damage and other information so you can investigate a car’s history by its Vehicle Identification Number, which is also known as VIN.
    4. Use the Car Comparison Chart to help compare vehicles during your search.

    Life. Money. You.™ and Pilot™ are trademarks of BCU.