RideBuy - Used Car Buying Guide

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.

When working with your budget, be sure to figure in the maintenance of the vehicle. The older the vehicle you buy, the less expensive. However, old vehicles may require major maintenance. Also, if you are interested in purchasing a high maintenance vehicle like a sports car, then you will have to factor those costs as well.


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.