Checklist for Buying a Used Car

Need a used car so the student in your life can get home on weekends? Or maybe it’s just time for you to make a change. Whatever the case, buying a used car can be a stressful experience for many. There are, however, a number of steps you can take to make the experience an easier – and more successful – one.

Establish the Ground Rules

It may sound obvious, but the first thing you should do is to establish what you want in a vehicle and to know what your budget is. Make a list of what you want in a vehicle (and in a separate column, what you don’t want) and identify the “must haves”, those items that are a deal breaker for you when considering any used car. Determine a budget – what you’re willing and able to spend – based on your income and expenditures. Search online or consult the Red Book to get an idea of prices in the current used car market. The best thing you can do in regard to your needs and your budget is to be realistic.

Bring a Friend

Taking someone with you to check out a used vehicle is a great idea for a number of reasons. Not only do you get a second set of eyes, but a friend may be able to offer a different perspective about the vehicle in question and can be of essential assistance when checking certain functions on the vehicle such as rear and front headlights.

Talk It Out

Though some can be shy when engaging in a potential business transaction (another good reason to bring a friend with you, if you are), talk to the owner and ask the questions you need to ask: ask to see the vehicle’s service record, ask about other owners, ask about mileage, about any problems with the vehicle, ask about anything else that’s on your mind related to this potential transaction. This will also give you the chance to trust your gut. If you feel like you’re being given the run around, end the conversation then and there.

Everything in Its Place

Check the vehicle to make sure the spare tire, jack, owner’s manual, and anything else that ought to be there, is in place. If it’s not, find out why it’s not. You’ll have to decide whether or not its absence reveals a hidden problem with the vehicle, and whether or not it’s a deal breaker for you.

Engage Your Senses

When buying a used car, use your eyes, hands, ears and nose to alert yourself to anything that seems out of the ordinary. Look for rust, leaks, signs of repair and other potential issues. Although you may not know exactly what you’re looking for under the hood, give it a once over to look for anything that seems off, including cracks in belts, leaks, etc. Run your hand over sections of the vehicle’s surface to feel for repairs, and check for signal, gearshift, and other device response times. Try the air conditioning, radio, wipers, etc. When starting, stopping and running the vehicle, listen for anything out of the ordinary. Be aware of any odors emanating from the car that might suggest a leak, faulty wiring or any other such problem.

Got for a Ride

It’s crucial to take any vehicle you’re considering for a test drive. This is your chance to see how the car handles on the road, and to be on the lookout for any operational imperfections. Preferably, drive the vehicle to a long stretch of road where you can test it on the open highway (in strict adherence to the speed limit, naturally), and to a place such as an empty parking lot, where you can experience its turning ability, etc. Does it veer to one side? How are the breaks?

Go Pro

The best thing you can do overall is to take it to a professional. It’s another essential step in making the right choice. Have a mechanic you trust give the vehicle a thorough going over. And when your mechanic gives it the okay, take it to another professional.

Cooke Insurance Group has you covered with Private Passenger Auto insurance and a host of additional and optional vehicle coverage. We’re experts in the field of auto insurance with experience that dates back to 1972. Call 1-800-566-5666 or click here to talk to a broker right now.



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