10 Tips For Getting The Best Deal on a Used Vehicle

Here are 10 points you’ll want to have covered if you’re in the market for a used vehicle.

Establish How You’re Going to Pay for the Car

1. If you’re paying cash and buying from a dealership, you’ll want to make sure they don’t waste your time asking for a credit application. One thing you can do is have a bank statement or balance letter handy when you visit the dealership. That way, you establish that you have cash available and can negotiate a price without a credit application. However, take care in deciding when, or if, you need to show your statement to the car salesperson.

2. If you’re using an auto loan to buy a used vehicle from a private seller, make sure to let your seller know up front. Educate them about your lender’s process. The seller should know how long the process will take, how they will receive their money, and what type of paperwork or inspections your lender may require.

Find the Best Deal on a Used Vehicle

3. Decide how far you’re willing to travel to find a low price on the car, minivan, SUV or truck of your dreams. If you’re looking for a popular make and model or you’re open to a variety of feature and color options, you may not have to travel more than a few miles from your home to find a great deal. However, if you’re looking for a specialty car, a specific model or trim level, or an older rare find, you’ll need to consider traveling may more than an hour drive or greater than 50 miles from where you live.

Use the Internet to Do Your Legwork

4. You can do much of your preliminary research on the internet including searching used inventory at local dealerships, searching for and communicating with private sellers on used auto listing sites and social media. When you find the vehicle you’re interested in, you can get a vehicle history report, find auto insurance, and apply for vehicle financing online.

Questions to Ask the Seller

Of course, you’ll want to know the asking price and if the seller is willing to negotiate. Even if the price and the vehicle seem perfect, here are some things you’ll need to find out before you make a purchase offer.

5. What is the manufactured date? You’ll want to know if the vehicle was produced early or late in the model year. This can determine what features it may or may not include.

6. Do you have the title? Does the car have a salvage title? Having the physical title expedites the transfer process, otherwise, you’ll spend time waiting for the seller to go the DMV. Also, if the vehicle has a salvage title, due to accident or other damage, you may have a hard time getting financing or insurance.

7. Are there any rebuilt components like the engine or transmission? How many miles are on the rebuilt parts and are they under warranty? This will inform your maintenance and operating costs.

8. Has the vehicle passed emissions testing, if required in your area? If not, then you’ll want to see the list of ODB failure codes and determine if you will pay for the repairs or if you can negotiate a low price based on any outstanding repairs.

Test Drive and Inspect the Vehicle

9. Take a comprehensive test drive to make sure that the vehicle functions properly inside and out. Perform the smell test for burning oil, gas leaks and interior mold or water damage.

10. Take the vehicle to a mechanic for a pre-purchase and safety inspection to check for any mechanical problems.


Use these tips to save time and money when you shop for a used automobile.