Used car shopping tips

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 13, 2012

Some people shop for cars frequently, others do it rarely.  Because a car purchase can be a significant expense, it’s always a good idea to take your time and research options before jumping into the middle of the process. This is especially true when shopping for used cars, because they involve researching vehicle histories.

Start your used car purchase off on the right foot with these tips:

* Know what you want. Even though you’re buying used, you still need to narrow down what style of vehicle you’re looking for. Determine if a car, SUV, truck or van is what you need to fit your lifestyle. Then narrow down your search even further to the makes and models of vehicles you like.

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* Determine your budget, and how you’ll pay. If you can’t pay in full up front, establish how you can gain financing through an auto loan to pay for the new vehicle. Also, know how much you can afford in monthly payments. Get preapproved for a loan. Or, if you plan to purchase a vehicle through a dealer, discuss with the dealer what financing options are available, prior to discussing the purchase of a car.

* Start shopping. Used cars are available everywhere, from dealerships to private listings to online sites. To help narrow down your search, and make certain you find used cars for sale with a full vehicle history, visit The site allows you to search vehicles by type and manufacturer in your area. For eample, you can search for a Ford F150 for sale in Austin, or a used Jeep Wrangler for sale in Detroit, and you can contact the owner of the vehicle directly through the on-page contact form. will provide you with a used car score for each vehicle you review, based on features, condition and demand for similar vehicles in the area, which can provide you with a good idea of what kind of vehicle you’re looking at, as well as how quickly it could sell and be off the market.

* Test drive. Once you’ve found a used car you’re interested in purchasing, make certain you take it for a test drive. Even with all your research, until you get behind the wheel of a specific vehicle, you won’t know how it feels to drive. A test drive will also give you a chance to discover issues with the car that might not have been obvious in your research.

* Transfer of title and insurance. A dealership will handle the transfer of title for you, but if you’re purchasing from an individual, make certain you have the title signed over to you during the payment transaction. Check with your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles for requirements involving licensing and registration. Also, contact your car insurance agent about insuring your new vehicle.

With careful research and planning, buying a used car doesn’t have to be a difficult process. Soon you’ll be zipping around town and enjoying your new ride.