Tips on Buying a Used Car

Buying a used car can be a stressful and challenging process, especially if you’re not a car enthusiast. But buying a used car often makes sense: you can save money, take advantage of depreciation, or find a rare and unique vehicle that you’ve always wanted. It’s possible to score a good deal on a used car and avoid buying a lemon if you know what you’re doing. It just takes a little patience, a little research, and five buying tips.

Finding a Used Car

Before you can identify a good deal or the car you want, you need to know where to look. Unless you are an automotive enthusiast, mechanic, or you’re looking for a project car to repair on your own, we don’t recommend buying a used model from a stranger by the side of the road. It’s more difficult to assess a used car on the spot unless you have some know-how. Otherwise, there are online dealers and physical dealers that offer upfront information about the car to aid you in your search.


Always make and stick with your budget. If you’re looking for a used car for $5,000, don’t lose perspective and buy a different vehicle for more money. Stick to your budget and spend the time to find the right vehicle.


Once you have an idea of the type of car you want, start researching the make and model. Check for recalls and common mechanical issues. Compare prices using other online sellers like these.

Test Drive

A thorough test drive is the most important part of the used car buying process. Don’t just kick the tires, plan ahead and make a thorough checklist. You can use minor issues as bargaining chips, but never buy a used car with serious mechanical problems. Take the car for a long drive. Drive safely but normally. If the seller does not want you to take the car for a test drive, walk away.


Give the vehicle a thorough examination inside and out, especially if you’re buying from a private seller. Use a flashlight and look under the car for oil leaks and rust. Open the hood and inspect the drive belts and engine for signs of leaks. Don’t be afraid to bring a friend or colleague who knows more about vehicles. Follow these simple tips, and you can find a good deal on a used car.