When you’re pumping numbers into a car payment calculator, you’re probably not yet thinking too much about the specifics of the vehicle you want to buy. Oh, you might have a particular year or model in mind, or you might have even gone so far as to take a vehicle for a test drive, and done the smart thing to come home and look at the car payment calculator before you sign. However, there are some very specific things you need to look at in regard to buying a used car, long before you even consider closing the deal on the purchase.
Here are the top things to consider when buying a used car:
- Mechanical soundness. The most important thing you need to know about a used car is whether or not it’s going to keep running. You probably don’t have the mechanical expertise to check out the whole car, but you should be listening for noises from the engine, and paying attention for wobbles or other problems during your test drive. If at all possible, consider paying a mechanic to give a potential used vehicle a look before you buy it.
- Costs. The costs of a used car aren’t all listed in your car payment calculator. The amount you pay on insurance for your car, for example, can vary greatly based on the year, make and model of the vehicle. Just because your car payment is going to be $300 per month doesn’t mean that you can ignore the additional $50 per month your insurance will cost.
- Vehicle history. More and more used car dealerships are offering to run a vehicle history report for customers. If the dealer won’t do it, or if you’re considering buying a used car from an individual, you can get your own vehicle history report for a price. You want to make sure the vehicle has a clean title, and that it’s not been in any major accidents or suffered major damage.
- Take your time. The main thing is to do the legwork. Know what the vehicle is worth, and whether it’s going to run well for you. Don’t be afraid to walk off the dealership lot without a vehicle. Taking public transportation for an extra couple of days is completely worth it, if it helps you avoid a lemon.