Buying a used car can be extremely exciting or daunting, depending on how you approach the situation. You can get a great deal at a lower price if you know what to look for. Cars are one of those commodities that lose value as soon as they’re driven off the lot, and most new cars are not exceptionally better than older models. This makes it possible to get a wonderful vehicle at a rather reasonable cost if you buy a used one.
However, you can also be duped, as some people will try to sell you a car that’s in poor condition or overpriced. You must know both how to negotiate and review the car properly. This can be scary to people who are not familiar with cars, but after reading this guide, you will be able to handle yourself in any negotiation.
Know who to buy from
When it comes to buying a used car, you have two options. You can either contact a private individual or try to buy a used car through a dealer. With the former, you have the advantage of cutting out the middleman, which means you might be able to get the same product cheaper. However, you would be hunting for cars yourself, such as searching online, and would have to take complete responsibility for checking the car’s working condition.
While a dealer might not carry every model of a used car, it does make it easier to view various options and provide all the information upfront. Depending on where you live, you might also be able to get a better price through a dealership. It is not uncommon for a Singapore car dealer to offer discounts in December, as they want the car off the lot before the model becomes another year older.
Know your affordability
When you decide to buy a new car, you can’t just look at the specs. You need a car that is the best bang for the buck, and to determine that, you need to finalize your price point. If you have a large budget for the car, you have more options, but if you set your budget on, for example, $8,000, you can eliminate several options, such as a used Cadillac Escalade. Moreover, once you have set your price point, you can use online tools to review cars, common issues, price trends, etc.
You also need to evaluate your budget according to how you plan to buy. If you intend on making one upfront payment, that’s fine, but if you plan to purchase via lease or monthly payments, you need to account for the interest within your budget.
Another factor that affects your choice is the operational cost of the car. Some pre-owned vehicles will require a few fixes right off the bat and annual maintenance costs. You can use a calculator tool like this to ensure that you aren’t struck by sticker shock and know what to expect from your potential car.
Aim for a common car
This is a personal choice, but you should prioritize high-volume cars unless you have a specific car you’re aiming for. If the car is available on the used market in the thousands, you would have a better chance of finding a good deal. This puts you in a stronger negotiating position, regardless of your purchasing power. It also gives you the confidence to walk away from a bad deal, as you know there would be a dealer or private seller that would have the same model on some other site.
Indeed, one of the most common tactics at a dealership is to keep you on the lot for as long as possible. The dealer might say they need to “run the numbers” or “ask their boss” to have you sink more time into the negotiations and thus be more likely to buy the car. By looking at a common car, you’d know there are more options, which can be the motivation you need to walk away from a bad deal. If you want to improve your chances of getting a good deal as a used car buyer, look for places in the market with ample supply and low demand.
Shop at the right time
Another trick you can use to buy the model at a lower price is making your purchase during the off-season. For example, if you want to buy a convertible, wait until it’s winter, as most people will be avoiding that type of car at the time. On the flip side, SUVs tend to decrease in price in spring.
Moreover, you are more likely to get a better price from a dealership at the end of the month. While this might require you to be more patient and put in the time needed to wait for the right deal, it’s better in the long run. You would potentially be able to afford a better car at a lower price point. As the saying goes, buy nice or buy twice.
Look in unexpected areas
If you have understood the advantages of buying a used car, you might also feel that it’s worth the effort of looking in unusual places to find a good deal. In major cities, you can find every type of car, which is convenient, but if you travel out of the city, you are more likely to find the same car at a lower price point. For example, if you find a seller in a rural area, you would get a hybrid car at a better rate. Similarly, you’d get a pick-up truck cheaper in an urban center. The key is understanding which car has low demand in which region and proceeding from there.
Bring someone with you
The good cop, bad cop routine isn’t limited to crime dramas. You should bring someone with you after doing all your research and prep work. This person can play the bad cop once the negotiations start and talk down the car or the price you’re getting. You might be able to use this to get a better price or some extra amenities like an extended manufacturer warranty. It’s one of the oldest tricks in the book, but it still works rather effectively.
While it takes quite a bit of time and effort to find a good deal on a used car, after reading over this guide, you will hopefully have a much better idea of what to do. Most people are disadvantaged due to their lack of information. As long as you know about the car you’re looking for and are familiar with how dealers might treat you, you have a great shot and getting the best possible price.