Shopping for a great used
car takes a lot of work. Unlike new car inventory that features a large number
of never before driven vehicles, the much larger used car inventory is composed
of everything from demo models to run down old jalopies. As a result, finding
the best quality vehicle means sorting through a far greater reserve of
available cars. We offer some advice on how to find a great used car when there
is so much to look at!
What You Want and Need
First things first when
buying a used car: How much can you afford to pay? Who will be driving the
vehicle? What technology and safety features are important to you? Where will
you be driving it? Answering these questions and being specific about the type of
car you want will narrow your search parameters. For instance, you might be
thinking, “I can pay up to $25,000 for a late model Hyundai Tucson, Chevy
Equinox or a Dodge Charger (crazy, we have one of each of those in stock at the
moment), equipped with Navigation and outfitted with leather seats. I will use
this car as my daily driver.” At this point you have targeted your inventory to
focus popular trending vehicle, or say perhaps you’ve budgeted x dollar for
fuel each month and you drive a distance to work, you’ve now targeted fuel
efficient vehicles as your primary search.
With your choices
sufficiently narrowed, it is time to evaluate what is left in a bid to shrink
your search parameters further. There are some additional questions you need to
ask yourself, including: What trim packages do I require? Am I looking for a V6
or a V8 engine? Is fuel efficiency important to me? You should also find car
reviews and read what the reviewers have to say about each vehicle.
Do you want a car with
good crash test ratings? Head over to the Insurance Institute for Highway
Safety (IIHS) website to see how the vehicles you’re considering perform in
crash tests. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) also
provides crash test scores and recall information. The more you know about a
vehicle going in, the better for your ownership experience. Use this
information to help you narrow your search to just one make and model.
For Specific Vehicles
There are a number of
ways for you to search for a great used car.
You might start by going directly to the dealer’s website for current
inventory and pricing. If a dealer doesn’t
list pricing of a used vehicle, you must ask yourself why? Knowing what you may be paying before you
begin the process is extremely important!!
Once you find a vehicle
that interests you, arrange for an appointment to review the car in person. It
is best to see a car during daylight hours to accurately gauge the body’s
condition, including the finish, trim and accessories. You need to ensure that
the body panels match and fit. Raise the hood, check hoses, belts and the
condition of the battery. Verify that the coolant is clean and that the engine
oil and transmission fluid are clear. Look inside the car and check the
condition of the seats, the dashboard and trim. Test every electronic feature
for workability, including the seats, steering wheel, Navigation, the audio
system, power accessories and other features.
Look for trouble signs
under the hood, inside the car and in the trunk. Problems like possible water
damage could be present if you notice odd smells such as mildew.
Get behind the wheel of
the car and take it for a drive. You should drive the car exactly as you plan
to use it. Test the lights, adjust the audio system, switch on the cruise
control and adjust the suspension settings, if available. Take note of how the
car steers and handles, as well as its acceleration and braking, ride comfort,
sight lines and other driving factors. It is important for you to uncover as
much information about the car as you can through real world driving since a
lot of money could be riding on your experience.
If you need financing, a
reputable used car dealer is going to have banks that they work directly
with. Try to avoid buy here pay here
situations, or dealers that finance you “in house.” Relationships with Credit Unions are important,
they’ll help you establish or maintain positive credit history provided you are
making timely payments.
Thanks for taking the
time to read our advice (hopefully it wasn’t to one sided). Check out all of our inventory at www.jandjautoplex.com find us on
Facebook, call us 620.805.6800, or stop by and visit (you never know, maybe we’ll
buy a free cup of coffee)!