buying a used car

Are you in the market for a new (to you) vehicle? Have you decided that a used car is right for you? Congratulations on your soon-to-be new ride! 

Buying a used car is a smart choice. Someone else has already paid for any upgrades or custom trim options and depreciation that all new cars experience shortly after they’re purchased.

You can often find great deals on used cars, but it’s important to know what to look for. Our guide can help. When it’s time to start looking, use this list of things to do when buying a used car to get a reliable, safe vehicle with a clean history. 

1. Decide What You Can Afford and Secure Financing 

It’s important to decide what you can afford before you start looking at cars. If you start looking before you determine this, you might fall in love with something that’s outside of your budget. Once you decide what you can afford, you need to figure out if you’re going to pay cash or finance. 

You can often finance through car dealerships or you can secure your own financing through your bank or credit union. The amount you finance will be less any trade-in value (if you have one) or down payment you put on the car. Once you have a budget, you can actually start looking for cars. 

2. Peruse Reviews and Used Car Guides

Narrow down what you are looking for to a specific style of vehicle, whether that’s a sedan, minivan, truck, SUV, or something else. This will help narrow your searches. Once you know what body type you’re looking for, start reading reviews. 

Research things like safety, crash ratings, gas mileage, space, and other features that might be important to you. Since you’re looking for a used vehicle, it’s probably wise to have a few options that you’re interested in, as you are limited to the used inventory in your area. 

3. Find Used Vehicles in Your Area

Once you have a shortlist of vehicles, start searching for used inventory in your area. It might be worth expanding your search a bit outside of your immediate geographic area to find a good deal. 

There are several ways to find used vehicles in your area. You could go right to the websites of various dealerships if you have some in mind or you can use websites that will search the used car inventory in whatever geographic area you set. 

The internet has made car shopping much easier, as you can narrow your searches to a specific vehicle, in your price range, that is located within a certain number of miles from your home or city. 

For best results, start by checking out our current used car inventory here:

4. Test Drive

Now that you have your short list, it’s time to go test drive. Here’s where the internet comes in handy again. Use the contact functions at the different dealerships or car lots to contact them to make sure your desired vehicle is actually in stock. You also can often make an appointment to come in for a test drive as well. 

Before you head out on your drive, take a look around the car’s exterior, noting any rust, dents, or scratches. Once inside the vehicle, test out all of the interior features, like the heat and air conditioning, lights (interior and exterior), turn signals, radio, etc. 

Once driving, listen for any strange noises; pay attention to how the car steers and brakes, and get a feel for the vehicle. Ultimately, you should like driving the car. 

It’s a good idea to bring someone with you to test drive, as they are a second set of eyes and ears to notice anything wrong with the car that you may miss. 

5. Have the Car Inspected By a Mechanic

It’s also a good idea to have the car inspected by a mechanic who can check for any mechanical issues that you can’t see or discover during the test drive. Have the mechanic check for any recalls on the car and have them review the vehicle history report. 

They can find anything that you may miss on the test drive or anything that’s not included in the history report. A mechanic can also identify any impending maintenance issues, such as tires that will soon need to be replaced, thinning brake pads, or a transmission that won’t last much longer. 

6. Negotiate Your Sales Price

If everything checks out and you decide that you’d like to purchase the car, it’s time to negotiate your price. Do your research ahead of time so you know what a fair price is. You can also negotiate things like the trade-in value of your car to get a better final price. 

If negotiating isn’t your thing, bring someone with you who’s not afraid to play hardball. Be prepared to walk away if the salesperson won’t work with you as well. While you might not get exactly what you want, salespeople generally will try to work with you to get a sale. 

7. Ensure all Paperwork is Completed 

After you negotiate your price and terms, make sure all of the proper paperwork is completed. You’ll need to transfer the title of your trade-in to the seller, transfer your license plate to your new vehicle (or apply for a new one if you aren’t trading a car in), sign any financing paperwork, and complete any warranty transfers. 

We will assist you with all of this paperwork and you will only be required to sign the paperwork. Before you drive away, make sure that you get copies of everything you signed.

Hopefully, this list of things to do when buying a used car will give you the confidence to find a reliable vehicle that meets your needs and fits into your budget. While the process can seem overwhelming, if you go into it prepared, things will go much more smoothly. 

If you’re in South Florida looking for a used vehicle, look no further than Monster Cars. We offer a huge selection of pre-owned vehicles, can take your trade-in, and also offer financing.