Buying a used car doesn’t need to be an ordeal — not when you’ve got solid pointers for searching, shopping, buying, and financing a vehicle. Here are 6 tips for buying a used car. The advice below comes directly from CarMax store associates. These are pointers they share with their friends and family members, as well as CarMax customers.
1. Understand your needs.
It’s easier to choose the best type of vehicle for your needs once you’ve identified your overall lifestyle considerations. Ask yourself: what features and benefits are most important to you?
2. Plan your budget.
Be sure you’ve got your budget range figured out. Doing this will help you narrow your choices. There are steps you can take to clearly define your budget
. Remember to include enough wiggle room in your budget for taxes and license fees—doing this will help keep you from overshooting your target price.
3. Get pre-qualified.
Apply for financing
early — before you go shopping, if possible. This can help you understand which cars and trucks will fit your budget, and which ones won’t. When you get pre-qualified
, you’ll also get a better idea of how much down payment you might need.
4. Research the histories of the cars on your list.
Once you’ve narrowed down your choices, go ahead and pull a vehicle history report to check for any reported accidents in the past, or any title issues. At CarMax, you can rely on the clear history documentation provided by an AutoCheck
® report to help learn the history of a vehicle you’re considering for purchase. Every vehicle CarMax sells comes with a free AutoCheck Vehicle History Report. Armed with this data, you can make a more informed purchase decision.
To learn more about how to read a Vehicle History Report, click here.
5. Test drive your top used car choices.
Once you’ve created your list of ideal used vehicles for sale, take a few test drives. You should test drive each vehicle on your list to see which ones best suit your driving style and preferences.
After each test drive, get out of the car and jot down a few notes to help you with future comparisons you’ll make before determining which one to purchase. Remember to use an MPG calculator to assess the vehicle’s fuel rating so you can save that information in your notes as well.
6. Understand warranties and return policies.
Ask questions early on about warranties and returns in order to understand how your vehicle, and you, are protected. CarMax customers have five days to return a vehicle they’ve bought at our stores, for example — no questions asked. We also offer 30-day limited warranties on every vehicle we sell (more in some states