Buying the right used vehicle can give you an incredible value. Buying the wrong used vehicle can become a nightmare. That’s why it is important to know what right steps to take before you start shopping. Here’s a guide on how you can make the best possible decision when buying your next used vehicle.

Deciding what used vehicle to buy

The first thing that you need to do is decide what you want to buy. There are literally hundreds of models to choose from. Here are the three top criteria that you should consider.

1). Your budget

The first thing that you have to consider is your budget. Therefore, you need to look at how much money that you have and how much that you can borrow. You may want to get a pre-approval for a loan before you do some shopping. When getting pre-approved for a loan, you will want to gather some paperwork that shows your income. This can help give a lender a pretty good idea of what kind of auto loan that you can afford.

The first thing that you have to consider is your budget. Therefore, you need to look at how much money that you have and how much that you can borrow. You may want to get a pre-approval for a loan before you do some shopping. When getting pre-approved for a loan, you will want to gather some paperwork that shows your income. This can help give a lender a pretty good idea of what kind of auto loan that you can afford.

2). Your needs

Your vehicle is going to have a number of functions in your daily life. Therefore, you have to find a vehicle that is going to fit your needs. Here are some of the factors that you will have to consider:

● How many people are you going to bring in your vehicle. If you have a family, then you may need to consider a larger vehicle.
● Do you have lots of cargo that you need to bring with you? You may need to consider an SUV or a truck.
● Do you live in an area that gets frequent rain and snow? Then you may need to consider an all-wheel-drive vehicle.
● Like to go off-road? Then you will need to consider a vehicle with many capables.

3). Your personal style

Finally, you will want to consider your personal style. Afterall, you will be living with your vehicle for several years. Therefore, you will want to have a vehicle that you will like. The good news is that there is literally a vehicle for everyone. Here are some questions that you will want to ask yourself:

● Do you want a vehicle that attracts attention?
● Do you like a vehicle with a luxurious interior?
● Do you want a vehicle with the latest technology?
● Do you want a vehicle with a high end sound system?

What to Look For

By now, you should have a short list of three to five models that you are considering. Now, it's time to go shopping! When you start looking at a bunch of vehicles, there are a number of things that you need to look for when checking out each vehicle. Here are the top eight things to look for:

1). Vehicle history - Be sure to get a vehicle history of any car, truck, SUV, or minivan that you are considering. A vehicle history such as Carfax will show you how many people owned the vehicle, the maintenance history as well as any accident history on the vehicle.

2). Leaks - Leaks can be a big red flag on any vehicle. Therefore, you will want to check for any oil or transmission or coolant leaks under the vehicle after a test drive. After the vehicle stops for a few minutes, look under the car for any leaks.

3). Low speed driving - During your test drive, you will want to check out how the vehicle performs under low speed conditions. Some of the things that you should check out is the sound that the vehicle makes. Are there any grinding sounds coming from the brakes. How about noises under the hood? Do you hear any noises coming from the brakes. Also, check if the vehicle is steering itself to one side. Finally, be sure to check if the suspension is good on the vehicle by seeing if it leans to one side.

4). Highway driving - Next you will want to take the vehicle on a highway drive. During your highway drive, you will want to check the acceleration of the vehicle. Does the vehicle shift well. Also check if the vehicle offers responsive braking from speeds of over 50 miles. Be sure to listen to the wind noise. High wind noise could be a sign that the vehicle is not well built. Finally, check the electronics to make sure that they are in working order.

5). Braking - You will want to check the brakes on the vehicle as well. Listen if the brakes are making any squealing noises when coming to a stop. Also check to see if the vehicle pulls to one side when braking. Be sure to ask the seller when the brake pads have been replaced.

6). Body and frame - Be sure to check the body and the frame. You want to make sure that the frame of the vehicle is straight. Also check to make sure that the panel gaps on the vehicle are tight and even. A good body and frame is essential for a vehicle that will last.

7). Emissions - Be sure to check the emissions of the vehicle. Chances are that your vehicle will have to pass emissions tests in your state in order to get registered. See if you can smell any strange odors while inside the vehicle. Also, check for smoke coming out of the exhaust while it is idle.

8). Interior condition - Finally, you will want to take a look at the interior condition of the vehicle. Most of the wear will be on the driver’s seat. Be sure to check for any cracks or rips in the seat. Also, check for leaks in the footwells. Finally, be sure to check for any damage to the buttons or knobs on the center console.


When car shopping, you will want to make sure that you are getting the best deal. Also, you want to avoid getting ripped off. Here are some steps that you can take when shopping with either a dealer or a private seller.


1). Check reviews
Be sure to check the online reviews of the dealer. Now, just about all dealers may have some negative reviews. However, if the dealer has a large number of negative reviews, then you should find another dealer.

2). Checking the Bluebook value of the vehicle
Before you step onto the dealership, you should know the Bluebook value of any vehicle that you are looking for. This will give you a good idea of how much the vehicle will cost. If you feel that a vehicle is overpriced, then you can mention the Bluebook value of the vehicle. This can help you potentially get a better price.

3). Avoiding “add on” costs
Many dealers will make extra money by offering you add on costs such as extended warranties, paint protection and other things that you don’t need. Avoid these “add on” costs that will just pad the price of your vehicle.

4). Used vs. Certified Pre-Owned
Some dealerships will offer you a used vehicle or a Certified Pre-Owned or CPO vehicle. A CPO vehicle will usually be of better quality and may come with a warranty. While CPO vehicles may cost more, they may be a better deal for you.

5). Negotiate
Dealers expect you to negotiate the price. That’s why lots of dealers will set their prices higher than you’d expect. Since you know the Bluebook value of the vehicle, have a price that you are willing to pay and don’t budge. Most dealers will meet your price rather than lose the sale.

Private Sellers

1). Avoiding scammers
Sadly, there are lots of scammers in the world of private vehicle sales. Some scams include having you Western Union or Paypal money before you close on the deal. Never send anyone money before you receive the vehicle. Also, avoid buying from a private seller from a long distance if you don’t know the person. Even if you have been scammed, some law enforcement agencies will see it as a matter than should be disputed in civil court.

2). Buying safe
Make sure that you are safe when dealing with a private seller. Don’t go to an area where you may feel uncomfortable. If possible, meet at a public location. Also, make sure someone knows where you are going. Finally, keep your phone charged in case you need to make an emergency phone call.

3). Getting a pre-inspection
It’s a good idea to have a mechanic inspect the vehicle before you purchase. This is especially true if you are buying a high end vehicle or a sports car. A mechanic will be able to detect issues that you might not find.

4). Make an offer
While the owner may have a price for the vehicle, be sure to come up with your own offer. Some private sellers may be firm on the price. However, others may be able to negotiate with you.

5). Avoid paying cash
Avoid paying cash for the vehicle. If you have a dispute, it may be hard to prove that you purchased the vehicle at a certain price. Pay by cashiers check. If there is a dispute, you will have a better proof of payment.

Getting the right deal on your next used vehicle

Buying a used vehicle can be an exciting time if you enjoy vehicles. Be sure to do your research and make sure that you shop around. Following these steps can help you find a great vehicle at a great price.

How to Deal with Car Dealers

When you decide to buy from a dealer, you need to know how to get the best deal. One of the ways of getting the most for your money is navigating the many fees that you will encounter. While some of these dealer fees are legitimate, others are outright unnecessary while others can be negotiated. Here’s what you need to know when dealing with vehicle dealers.

Legitimate dealer charges

The following dealer charges are common at every dealership. Therefore, you should not be surprised to see these charges on the deal contract. While some of these fees can be negotiated, the dealer will likely give you the least amount of leeway on these particular charges.

1). Documentation
Documentation charges are simply the charges for creating all the documents involved with the purchase or the lease of the deal. In some states, the document fees are capped at a certain limit. In other states, there is no document charge limit. Therefore, you should know the limit in your state and not pay a penny about that.

2). Title and Registration
The title and the registration fees are fees that are involved in making sure that your vehicle is properly titled and registered in the state where you are driving the vehicle. These charges are set by the state. Therefore, make sure you know how much the state charges so the dealer doesn’t try to overcharge you in this area.

3). Sales Tax
A sales tax is tax on the price of the vehicle. You should know the sales tax in your state to ensure that the dealer is not overcharging you.

Phoney Dealer charges

The following fees are designed to simply pad the price of the vehicle. Some dealerships will get you through the doors with low vehicle prices and then add thousands in these phony dealers' fees. You should flat out refuse to pay any of these fees.

1). Reconditioning
If you are purchasing a used vehicle, then you may be charged a reconditioning fee. This is a fee to get the vehicle up to a sellable condition. You should not have to pay because the dealership purchased a vehicle with old tires and an old battery. Reconditioning the vehicle is the responsibility of the dealership, not you.

2). Dealer prep fees
A dealer will try to charge you a fee to prep the vehicle for delivery for you. This is yet another fee that you should not have to pay. When you buy a vehicle, you are alway paying a huge amount of money, you should have to pay more to simply get the vehicle ready for you to drive home.

3). ADM (additional dealer markup)
This is probably one of the most egregious fake fees that you can find at a dealership. Additional dealer market up adds no value whatsoever to the vehicle. This charge is to simply make you pay for more money for the vehicle. You should never pay additional dealer mark-up.

4). Processing fee or electronic filing fee
This is another made-up fee that should not be anywhere on your contract. A so-called processing fee or electronic filing fee is basically the same as a documentation fee. This is a case where the dealership is trying to double charge you.

5). VIN etching
Sometimes a dealership will try to charge you for etching the VIN on a vehicle. You should not have to pay for this service.

Legitimate fees that you can avoid

Here are some fees that are not necessarily phony. However, you should be able to negotiate not paying some or all of these fees.

1). Delivery fee
If you buy the vehicle from a distance of over say 50 to 75 miles, a dealership may try to charge you a delivery fee. However, you should be able to waive the fee since you are going out of your way to be from a dealership that is a long distance from your location. Most dealerships will not want to lose a sale over a dealer fee.

2). Dealer advertising fees or co-op advertising fees
You know all those car ads you see on TV, hear on the radio, and see on the paper. Well, the dealerships don’t pay for many of those ads, the people who buy the vehicles actually pay for those ads! That’s right. A dealership will try to charge you something called a dealer advertising fee. Try to avoid paying this fee.

3). Maintenance plans
During the closing process of your sale, the dealership will try to offer you some upsells and crosssells. One upsell will be a maintenance plan for your vehicle. If you are buying new, your vehicle will be under warranty. Therefore, you should skip this plan.

4). Credit insurance
Credit insurance protects the dealer in the case that you can not make your payments. If you have less than good credit, then the dealership may insist that you pay for credit insurance. However, if you have good credit, then you should refuse to pay for credit insurance.

5). GAP insurance
GAP insurance is designed to pay the difference between what your insurance covers and the value of the vehicle in the case that you are leasing the vehicle or the vehicle is totaled before being paid off. If you want to get GAP insurance, then get it from your insurance company and not from the dealership.

6). Extended warranty
Ah, the old extended warranty upsell. Yes, your dealership will try to sell you an extended warranty. You should pay for an extended warranty unless that you are sure that you will be driving the vehicle after the original warranty expires.

Tips to getting a good deal at a car dealership

Now that we covered all the fees that you will encounter at a dealership, let’s take a look at some of the top ways that you can get a good deal. Here are the top eight tips to keep in mind:

1). Know the Kelly Blue Book value
Be sure to know the Kelly Blue Book value. This will give you a good idea of what the vehicle actually worth. This will give you an edge when it comes time to negotiate a final price

2). Make a counter offer
Be sure to make a counter offer on the vehicle. Chances are that the dealership will reject your counter offer outright. However, you can use your counter offer as a starting point in your negotiations.

3). Consider dealerships further away from your address
You may be able to get a better deal by looking at dealerships further away from where you live. These dealerships may be more willing to give you a better deal.

4). Shop near the end of the month
Just about all dealership managers and sales associates have a quota to meet by the end of the month. Therefore, you are likely to get a great deal when you shop towards the end of the month.

5). Look at vehicles that have been on the lot for a long period of time
Some of the best deals will come from vehicles that have been on the lot for a long period of time. Typically a vehicle will sit on the lost anywhere from 20 to 40 days. If a vehicle has been on the lot for more than 60 days, then it may be a great deal.

6). Don’t not mention how much you want to pay each month
One mistake that a lot of buyers make is telling the dealer how much that they want to pay each month. However, dealers know this and will get you the monthly price that you want and extend out your payments to a long period of time. Be sure to negotiate the full price.

7). Negotiate the price before talking financing, down payment, and trade-in
When you negotiate the price, make sure that you and the dealer agree on the price before you start talking about down payments, trade-ins and financing. This forces the dealer to work within the agreed upon amount before discussing trade-ins, financing, and down payments.

8). Be prepared to walk away
The only leverage that you have as a buyer is the ability to say no and walk away. Don’t be afraid to walk away from a deal. The sales person may say that the vehicle may be sold if you leave or the deal will no longer be available. However, these threats are usually a bluff and you may be able to score a better deal if the salesperson thinks that you are serious about walking away from the deal.

Getting the right deal at a car dealership

Knowing the ins and outs of how a dealership makes their profit can give you an edge when it comes to getting a great deal. Be sure to negotiate the fees and follow the tips above. With the right vehicle purchasing knowledge, you can potentially save thousands on your next purchase.