Buying a used car can sometimes feel overwhelming, especially if you haven't purchased one before. While new car purchases come with their own set of caveats and potential pitfalls, used cars have a reputation for being even more challenging. However, it doesn't need to be this way, and buying a used car can be a pleasant experience that provides you with a great ride at an excellent price.
Still, it can pay to understand as much about the buying process as possible and to know a few of the issues you might face while researching and buying your new (to you) vehicle. Fortunately, you'll be much more likely to enjoy your purchase if you can dodge these three common and easily avoidable pitfalls.
1. Casting a Wide Net
When buying a new car, your budget is often a major limiting factor. While many cars may be available at a particular price point, they usually fall into similar categories. On the other hand, used cars offer more options. By looking at cars a little older or with a little more mileage, you can often expand your search to everything from relatively new economy cars to ancient luxury vehicles.
Unfortunately, these options can lead to analysis paralysis and make it difficult to make any decision. Even worse, you may end up considering cars that don't fit your criteria for reliability, fuel economy, or other important factors. Instead, keep your search narrow and avoid making compromises to fit more potential vehicles within your budget.
2. Focusing on Rare Options
While there was a time when custom ordering a car from the factory was common, nowadays, buyers are far more likely to purchase their vehicles directly from the lot. This approach allows buyers to get new cars more quickly, but it also means that most vehicles on the road come with similar options packages. As a result, finding a used car with rare options can often be challenging.
You shouldn't compromise on "must have" features, but don't focus too much on rare or hard-to-find options that you don't care about it. It may be challenging to find a vehicle in a certain color or with a specific wheel package, for example. You can get a far better deal in many cases by choosing vehicles with a more common set of options.
3. Tire Kicking
There's nothing wrong with giving a car a good look over, but know your limits and understand your ability to judge a vehicle's mechanical condition. If you aren't a mechanic or an experienced do-it-yourselfer, stick to the basics and look at the paint, check fluids, and confirm that everything operates as it should.
In most cases, buying from a reputable dealership is the best way to get a reliable used car and is far more important than kicking the tires.