With new cars losing up to 30% of their value in the first year, buying used cars instead is a smart investment for Floridians.
Of course, shopping for used cars comes with a certain level of uncertainty and it’s easy to make a mistake when trying to select the best one for you. No one wants to overpay or get stuck with a lemon.
The sad truth is some car dealerships don’t have your best interests in mind.
Keep reading below to learn the seven mistakes to avoid when buying used cars in Florida.
1. Not Buying Used Cars With Pre-Approval
If you’re looking for the best deal on a used car, one of the easiest things you can do is get pre-approval for a car loan.
First of all, this helps you to set a budget on how much you’re willing to spend. You shouldn’t buy a used car for the full loan amount because you’ll need about 10% for taxes and fees.
Salespeople won’t be able to increase your interest rate through dealer financing because you have secure financing in hand. It also puts you in a better position to negotiate.
How do you get pre-approval? Start by calling your bank or credit union. Experts recommend getting them from multiple lenders so you can select the best one.
2. Not Researching Used Cars Ahead of Time
As with any big purchase like a home or investment, you need to do research ahead of time. It’s important to learn everything you can ahead of time and shop around by comparing car prices.
Try finding cars online first before visiting the dealership.
Even visiting a showroom to look at used cars is researching your next purchase. Here are six important questions to ask when buying a used car in South Florida:
- Why is the car being sold?
- What is the car’s history?
- Do they have a record of all maintenance done on the car?
- Has the timing belt been changed?
- Does the car have a spare tire?
- Are you willing to negotiate on the car’s price?
Knowing the answers to these questions can save you thousands of dollars down the road in car repairs or loan payments. Don’t forget, this is a used car we’re talking about.
3. Not Requesting Car History Report
We mentioned this above in the six questions to ask about a used car, but you need to request a car history report.
This report will tell you everything you need to know about a car:
- Who previously owned the car?
- Does the car have a history of accidents? What was the damage?
- Has the car’s title been branded? Are previous owners attempting to conceal information about it?
- Is the mileage reading accurate?
- Has the car been maintained regularly?
The car history report allows you to make an informed decision about buying a used car. Companies like Carfax.com or AutoCheck.com provide these reports as long as you have information like the vehicle identification number (VIN).
4. Not Asking for a Used Car Test Drive
If you go to a car dealership to inspect a used car before buying it, why shouldn’t you also ask for a test drive? The car looks spick and span from a distance. But, how does it run?
One tip is to slow down when checking out a car and be as observant as you can. Open then close all doors and windows. Get inside and test out all of the buttons.
Start the engine and if you feel comfortable enough check some of the fluids under the hood. Take a 20-minute test drive and listen for strange sounds or detect problematic sensations.
Talk to dealers and make sure you’re asking questions the whole time. This is your chance to learn all about the car.
5. Not Considering Your Car’s Rates or Loan Length
There are three ways to finance your used car: a private lender like a bank or credit union, online company, or through the dealership.
As we mentioned above, you’ll get the best deal by securing pre-approval with your bank or credit union. Dealerships will increase your interest rates and online companies don’t offer the customer service you may need.
Don’t only consider monthly car payments when shopping around. Yes, this is important for your total household budget, but loans with lower monthly payments have higher interest rates and loan periods.
This means you end paying more for the car!
6. Not Checking on Your Dealership Warranties
While all new cars come with dealership warranties, these aren’t guaranteed with used cars. This is something you’ll need to check.
One option is buying a pre-owned, certified car from a dealer because they often come with a warranty.
Otherwise, if you’re buying a used car, ask about purchasing an extended warranty. They’ll give you peace of mind and save you money on future repairs.
Consider investing in a premium extended warranty package. They may cost more but they will cover more of the car, and for three to five years rather than one.
7. Not Scrutinizing Your Used Car Contract
Always read the fine print when buying a car. Forget what the salesperson tells you. The purchasing agreement is what will be looked at when there’s an issue.
Many sellers now include a statute of limitations on suing them for a breach of contract. In some cases, you may have waived this right in the agreement without realizing it.
For these reasons, you should read and understand every line of your contract. During the negotiations process ask to remove any clauses that you don’t agree with and don’t take no for an answer.
Time to Go Used Car Shopping
Buying used cars can be a stressful process. But, if you take a deep breath and follow the tips we provided above you’ll be able to secure an affordable, reliable vehicle.
Don’t forget that as a buyer you have total control over the purchasing process.
Contact us now to hear about your options. Monster Cars is a family-operated business connecting all types of customers with quality pre-owned vehicles.