Automobile prices are increasing drastically with each passing year. And for someone who can barely make ends meet, it is quite difficult to maintain their car frequently. Of course, buying a new car is totally out of the question. So, most of the people in this situation are only left with one option, and that is to invest in a used car.

But don’t be fooled by the term ‘second hand.’ A used car doesn’t always have to be in a dilapidated state. Buying a used car can often be one of the smartest financial moves you’ve made in your life. But, the key is to arm yourself knowledge and resources that can help you make an informed decision rather than an impulsive one.

It may be tough to look for a dream machine in the minefield of used cars, but it’s not impossible. Here is a guide that brings you seven of our top tips to deal with hard-nosed salesmen and other technicalities before buying a used car:

1- List your requirements

The first step is to do as much research as you can. According to Autotrader, car buyers spend 59% of their time researching for the perfect used car.

Read online articles, visit car sale sites and read car reviews. Also, keep in mind that what kind of car will suit your needs. If you have a family, then look for a spacious one to keep the kids’ strollers and other necessities in the trunk. If you don’t like traveling, then there is no point in buying a 4WD. Hence, it is crucial to make a list of your own requirements before buying a used car.

2- Set a budget

Before you start hunting for cars, it is important to figure out how much are you willing you spend. There is no hard and fast rule, but financial planners say that it is not a wise move to spend more than 30% of your gross monthly income on housing and other related domains, which are usually the biggest expense. Keeping this rule in mind, don’t let your car budget get so high that you are unable to pay your mortgage and other bills in time.

3- Look into finance and insurance options

The next step is to decide whether you’ll pay all cash or get a car finance loan? Paying cash is a safe bet, especially if you don’t want to face credit hassles and high-interest rates. However, you can find some good car loans that can ease out your monthly budget so you can use the rest of your money somewhere else.

If you are looking for car financing options, then head to your local bank or credit union to learn the details.

4- Talk to the dealer and observe his body language

One of the safest and easiest ways to buy a used car is through a dealer. It may seem more expensive as compared to buying from a private seller or an auction- but the few extra dollars are totally worth it. Since dealers have to pay their own expenses such as rent and other wages and have a ‘we buy any car’ policy, they take more care of their cars and present them well. Plus, each dealer also has to provide a warranty by law, so there is an added sense of security.

Make a standard list of questions related to the car, but also add in a few unexpected ones like, “What’s your favorite memory of owning this car?” Such questions will instantly break the ice between you and the dealer and you’ll get a better insight about the car. Ask them about the most recent maintenance work that was done on the car. It will give you more details about the ownership experience.

If the seller sounds too anxious to sell the car, then consider it a red flag and avoid buying the car.

5- Learn more about the car’s history

Always remember to run a Carfax report on the used car that you’re interested in buying. A Carfax report gives you the complete history of the car, including any accidents or worrisome events related to it in the past. Some dealerships offer to run the reports for you, but if they don’t (or if you’re buying one from a private seller) then run the report yourself.

6- Do a test drive and get it inspected

The most important step of buying a second-hand car is to check how the car actually performs. If you are a pro, then you might be able to identify the condition of the vehicle as soon as you run the ignition. However, it is best to get the car inspected in detail by a trustworthy and reliable mechanic. Don’t, and I repeat, don’t skip this step. You may do the necessary inspection related to the engine and the body yourself, but you’ll still need a mechanic to run the detailed tests.

Think of the inspection cost as an investment that can save you loads of money in the long run.

7- Look for bright re-selling prospects

Once you have made up your mind, it is important to keep the car’s resale prospects in mind. Choose a model that offers good resale value. Don’t forget to maintain your car in pristine condition so that you can maximize its resale price. Be regular with car servicing and other maintenance jobs. Try to buy a neutral colored car over brighter ones as they are easier to resell.


Buying a used car can be a challenge, but don’t let the dealer trick you with smooth talks of driving away with an incredible deal. Behind the seemingly low price and other perks, there are usually a few things which any salesman won’t tell you. And these tiny details are perhaps the most important points that can either make or break your decision to buy the car.

This is why you need to be vigilant and follow the points mentioned above whenever you decide to buy a used car.

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