For the second in our series of “Road Safety 101: A Weekly Guide
to Staying Safe on the Road” posts, we are going to discuss how
to buy a used car. If you are considering buying a used car, it is extremely
important for you to be able to spot potential scams, red flags and hazards
that could put you and your family in danger.
Before You Begin the Used Car Buying Process in Michigan
Before you begin the buying process you will need to determine the type
of vehicle you want to buy and what you can afford to budget for it. If
you are going to buy from a private seller, you will likely have to come
up with cash to complete the sale. If you want to buy from an authorized
dealer, you will have numerous funding sources from which to choose. Try
to get funding from your bank, credit union or other source, as a loan
through a car dealer can be at a higher interest rate.
Once You Have Found a Used Car to Buy
Once you have found a used car you think you might want to purchase, the
following actions will help you determine whether the vehicle is worthy
of your time and money.
Research the vehicle’s history. Information can be gathered through
the government’s vehicle history site, as well as through companies
like CARFAX. Doing this research will allow you to find out if the
vehicle has been in a major accident before, its “lemon” history, title information, registration information,
service and repair details, how the vehicle has been used and any recall
associated with that model of car.
- Check the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration‘s (NHTSA)
database of vehicle recalls to find out if the car you intend to buy,
its tires or any of its parts and pieces have been subjected to recall,
and whether that vehicle has had the required repairs.
- Conduct your own inspection. Use your eyes, ears and nose to see if any
obvious warning signs exist. Fuel or fluid leaks could be an indicator
of a bigger problem.
- Obtain records showing what maintenance has been performed on the vehicle,
when tires were last replaced, and whether it has all its original parts.
This can help you predict future costs you may encounter once you purchase
- Find out what other people have to say about the model of the vehicle you
are considering buying. You can check online communities to find out what
current and past vehicle owners, as well as vehicle enthusiasts, have to say.
- Take the vehicle for a test drive under a variety of road conditions, such
as on the highway, along crowded roadways, and up and down hills. If the
vehicle does not sound or operate the way you believe it should, go with
your gut feeling. Do not be coerced into believing no problem exists,
at least until you’ve had the vehicle fully checked out by a trained mechanic.
- While you may be anxious to buy the vehicle, providing everything seems
to check out, it is important you refrain until you can bring in your
own mechanic to conduct a thorough inspection of the vehicle. Sellers
can sometimes appear knowledgeable and of good character, when in fact
their only interest is get the sale complete and take your hard-earned
money. Others may be genuinely honest and trustworthy, but uninformed.
An auto mechanic can conduct an in-depth inspection and may find serious
problems that could be costly to repair.
Negotiate a Deal
When it comes time to negotiate a deal, make sure you check the value of
the vehicle first.
Kelley Blue Book (KBB) has a search engine consumers can use to determine how much their next
used car may be worth. Consumers can obtain pricing information for dealerships,
certified pre-owned from a dealer and private sellers.
In some cases, you may be able to obtain a lower purchase price if you
are able to pay in cash, or buy from a private party versus a dealer.
If you need to finance, interest and other costs must be factored in.
Obtaining financing through your bank, credit union or other finance company
is advised as you will generally be able to receive a more favorable rate.
Financing through the dealer can bring your monthly payments and overall
costs much higher. You want to make sure the vehicle is worth the total
price you pay, so do your research.