8 Things to do Before Purchasing a Used Car

Deciding on the right used car can be a challenging process. You’ll be driving this vehicle for at least the next few years, so you want to make sure you get it right. There is no tried-and-true method for finding the “perfect used car,” but here at Car City, we have helped thousands of people find vehicles that match their needs and budget. Below are the steps we walk through with our customers when they aren’t exactly sure what they are looking for in a vehicle. Take a look and begin your used vehicle search!

1. Decide on your needs, wants, and likes.

Before you start your car search, you’ll want to define a list of things you need, want, and would like your car to have. Think of your needs as features you can’t possibly go without, wants as things you picture your car having, but don’t necessarily need, and likes as wish list items — it would definitely be awesome if your car had them, but they don’t really come into play in the decision making process. Below is an example of what the beginning of your list could look like.

Needs Wants Likes
– 4 Wheel Drive – Good Gas Mileage – Parking Assist Camera
– Rear Child Safety Locks – A Lot of Trunk Space – Auxiliary Input
– Standard Safety Features – Seating for Five – Smart Device Integration

While you may just be looking for something that can get you from Point A to Point B, defining your needs, wants, and likes can help you eliminate distractions so you stay on track while searching for the perfect vehicle for you.

2. Choose your body style.

After making your list and performing a little research, you should be in a good place to choose the body style of your vehicle. Do you want an SUV, sedan, minivan, truck, etc.? Asking questions like the following can help you make your decision:

  • How much passenger space do I need?
  • How much trunk space do I need?
  • What type of gas mileage am I looking for?
  • Will I be driving on difficult terrain or in difficult conditions?
  • How much power am I looking for?

3. Review your finances and set your price range.

Purchasing a vehicle is a big expense for most, so before you buy, make sure you’ve reviewed your finances and know your budget. How much do you currently have saved for a down payment? Have you considered financing? If you have, what type of monthly payments will you be able to afford? It is important to consider these things when reviewing vehicles, so you know exactly what you can commit to in terms of price. At this point, you might also want to revisit the above bullet points and align your needs, wants, and likes with your budget. Are you shooting too high? Too low? Or is your budget perfectly in line with what you are looking for in a vehicle?
Here at Car City, we guarantee financing and can get you in a car today for just $39. Get approved for your vehicle now! 

4. Make a list of vehicles and start researching.

You know your budget and you know what you’re looking for, so hit the internet and start searching. When you have a list of roughly ten vehicles that match your criteria, start diving in a little deeper. Read owner reviews of the vehicles, gain an understanding of regular problems the vehicle might have, and decide if it is the type of car you are looking for. If any red flags are raised during this process, cross the car off your list and move onto the next one.
Begin your list now by searching Car City’s vast inventory! We have everything from convertibles, to hatchbacks, to SUVs.

5. Get a vehicle history report.

You should now have a list of solid cars to follow-up on. You’ve done your groundwork, so it is time to take action. Here at Car City, we offer history reports and service records for all of our vehicles online through our AutoCheck service, but when working with other dealers, you’ll want to reach out and request these documents. They will give you some insight into how well the car has been cared for, if it has any lasting damage, and if it has had any serious repairs. It might be best to avoid cars with long histories of intensive repairs or extreme damages such as flood damage.

6. Inspect the car in person.

Online images aren’t always the most accurate or trustworthy sources when looking into the physical condition of a vehicle. Dents, scratches, and rust damage are all things that might not show up in photos but can be obvious during an in-person inspection. You’ll also be able to get a better feel for the general space and comfortability of the car.

7. Go for a test drive.

Nothing will give you a yes or no answer to a car quicker than taking it for a test drive. You can see how smoothly it runs, test out the acceleration and deceleration, get a feel for the handling, and try out everything from the windshield wipers to the radio. When you’re test-driving a vehicle, you don’t have to ask yourself “could I see myself driving this car,” you’ll know right then and there if the answer is no.

Start your search now!

Here at Car City, our goal is to help you find the right car at the right price. We have an incredibly large inventory containing a variety of makes and styles, and with locations all over West Michigan, you can find a fantastic car near you (you can even switch locations once you’re approved for one of our vehicles). We guarantee financing in the states of Michigan and Indiana, and can get you in a vehicle today for just $39 down — no matter your credit score. We will personally deliver history and service reports of our vehicles to you, and will give you any advice you may need when it comes to leasing your vehicle. You can browse our inventory of used vehicles hereschedule a visit to one of our locations here, or get approved for one of our vehicles via our online application here.

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