Everything you need to know when buying a used vehicle



Finding a new car for you is an exciting, but nerve-racking experience. With many unknown variables surrounding used vehicles, including the history, maintenance, and depreciation of the car, it can be difficult to find the right one, especially when it comes to keeping you and yourself. your money, out of the repair shop. While not exhaustive (no pun intended), this KSL Cars buying guide should get you on the right track.

Before you start looking

The first thing to consider when buying a used car is your needs and wants. In other words, what are you renting this car for?

Research different makes and models before you start researching specific ads. With traditional publications like Car and Driver and Motor Trend, not to mention countless YouTube channels like Everyday Driver of Utah and Ben Hardy, finding reviews and recommendations on vehicles that will meet your needs should be a simple and straightforward endeavor. pleasant.

Be realistic about what you can afford. Anticipate the cost of the vehicle (including taxes, title, license and other registration fees) and stay within your budget. This eliminates a host of vehicles and allows you to focus on the best options for your money. Don’t be poor with a car, but get the best car that your budget allows.

To buy a car

With over 64,000 cars in its database, KSL Cars is sure to have the make and model you are looking for. You can also purchase vehicles using the KSL Classifieds app (available on the App Store or Google Play). Enter the search parameters – make, model, mileage, year, price, trim level, etc. – and create a saved search. You can customize the app home screen to display your saved search results every time you open the app and / or receive notifications whenever ads are added that meet your criteria. You can also narrow your search as close or as far away as you want to test vehicles.

Savvy auto consumers also check the price of listed vehicles against Kelley Blue Book and National Automobile Dealers Association values. (Banks and credit unions also rely on these companies for loan decisions.) Use this value as a starting point for negotiations.

You are now ready to contact the seller and make an appointment to view the vehicle, whether it is for sale by the owner or a dealer.

Work with private sellers

When buying a used car, working with private sellers can increase the likelihood of learning its history. Dealers rarely know a vehicle’s history or have a record of it beyond a Carfax report and perhaps some maintenance records if the car was serviced there.

Questions to ask

What is the story behind buying and using the car? Why sell it now? Observe how the salesperson talks about the car and his experience as a owner. This is a good indication of how well the seller may have taken care of the vehicle and its reliability.

What work has been done on the car? Have major components been replaced? How much money did the seller put in the vehicle? Maintenance histories and service records are extremely valuable in the decision making process. Ask to see any documentation the seller has on hand.

You can also ask the seller for a Carfax or AutoHistory report. This is optional but highly recommended. Reports usually show title status (cleaned, rebuilt, recovered, etc.) and crash history. In some cases, the maintenance history is also displayed.

Everything you need to know when buying a used vehicle
Photo: Shutterstock

Car inspection

Perform a full exterior check, carefully examining each side and angle. How is the body? Are there any scratches or dents? Discoloration or rust? Get down on your knees and look below to check for deterioration. A little rust on the undercarriage is expected, especially here in Utah. But if excessive rust is visible, it’s best to get a second opinion from a third-party inspection service (see more below). Remember to check the condition of the tires. Signs of uneven wear, sun cracks or a low tread mean the tires need to be replaced.

Then do an interior check. Look for general cleanliness, stains, unusual or excessive wear and tear on seats and carpet. Your inspection should also include your sense of smell. If the interior of the vehicle smells musty or damp, there is reason to be concerned about mold, rust, or other potential issues. If the roof has water spots, it could be a sign of a sunroof or a leaking windshield.

Test the functionality of all controls and switches when inspecting the interior. Insert the key and observe the instrument cluster. Do the lights stay on after starting the car? If so, be sure to ask if the seller knows what caused the light to come on. If they don’t know, proceed with caution.

It’s time to open the hood. Perhaps the most important thing is checking the engine. Examine the hoses and straps. Are they cracked or worn? Also look at the coolant in the radiator. What color is it? If it appears gray and milky, it usually indicates a problem with the head gasket. Check other fluid levels in their containers, including the level and color of the oil.

Tips for a good test drive

Before deciding whether to buy a car or not, test the vehicle under different circumstances, at both ends of its performance spectrum.

On ignition, note the starting time. If this sounds unusually long, be sure to ask about it. Listen for clicking, clicking or any other unusual sound.

Notice how the acceleration feels. Does it shake or stutter? Try different speeds. Go through the city streets, but be sure to take the freeway. Is the vehicle going straight or pulling to the side? If he shoots, he might need alignment.

Make sure to test the brakes. Does the vehicle stop quickly? Does the steering wheel shake or vibrate excessively while doing so?

If it is a manual transmission, how does it work? Does it pass easily in speed? If it’s an automatic transmission, does it shift smoothly or does it feel rough / retarded?

Make an offer

If you have reason to be concerned with the car, or if that is just not what you are looking for, be good to go no matter how nice the person seems.

On the other hand, if the car meets your expectations and is right for you, be prepared to make a fair offer and commit to the purchase. Either way, it’s best to be honest and transparent about your intentions.

Work with dealers

When working with a dealership, the inspection and road test process is pretty much the same as with a private party. Dealers have a lot of used inventory, which can make shopping convenient and easy, but be aware that you may be depriving yourself of it when it comes to history, maintenance, and price negotiation.

Most dealerships have very slim margins on their used cars. While you can negotiate the price significantly on a new car, don’t expect the same negotiating room for a used car. The seller may be able to adjust a few hundred dollars, but probably not much more than that. There are also additional charges to consider as part of the total purchase price when working with a dealer rather than a private seller.

A dealership is unlikely to have a history on the car. The seller can provide you with a Carfax or potential maintenance records if the car has been serviced at the dealership. Other than that, the service history can be a bit of a gamble.

Everything you need to know when buying a used vehicle
Photo: Shutterstock

Third party pre-purchase inspection

If you are seriously considering purchasing a vehicle, whether from a private seller or a dealership, it is a good idea to arrange for a third party pre-purchase inspection. A PPI is typically around $ 100. A third-party mechanic will give you an honest assessment of the vehicle and point out the main areas of concern.

Even if the car looks and drives well, a PPI can still be worth the cost to make sure there aren’t any hidden issues lurking in its new owner.

Payment and paperwork

Completing the sale is a fairly straightforward process. If you are purchasing a vehicle from a private individual, you will only need a copy of the deed of sale and vehicle title deed. Dealers may require a few additional documents, which they will ask you for. Expect additional paperwork if you finance the vehicle through the dealership, bank, or credit union.

If you are purchasing the vehicle directly, use a secure means to complete the transaction. A cashier’s check for the exact amount of the purchase is often the preferred method of payment. If the seller requests another payment method such as an app, make sure it is well known and has adequate security features.

Finally, you will need to register the vehicle with the Motor Vehicle Division in your area after making a purchase from a private seller. If you closed with a dealership, this step should be taken care of for you.

Whether new or used, KSL Cars has the car you need. Follow KSL Cars on Instagram and Facebook for automotive news, local spotlights and giveaways. Do you or someone you know have a great car history? We want to present it! Send us a message at [email protected]

About the Author: Having owned everything from a DeLorean to an E46 M3 to a Toyota Land Cruiser, Jason Bell is a lifelong car enthusiast who enjoys sharing his passions as a teacher, writer, speaker. and responsible for social media. Contact him at [email protected] for comments / questions, or just to say “hello”.

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