Top Mistakes Car Buyers Make When Buying a Used Car

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In 2021, supply chain shortages impacted the sale of new and used cars, leading to a 5% increase in used car sales. For many car buyers, this process can seem intimidating, especially if they’re accustomed to buying new cars.

Can you get a great deal when buying a used car? Can you get a high-quality vehicle that still has a lot of life in it? The answers are yes, so long as you know what you’re doing.

We’re here to talk about the biggest mistakes that car buyers make when looking for and purchasing a used car. We make it our mission to provide Canadian car buyers with the information they need to make a smart investment.

Read on to learn the top used car mistakes that car buyers can make and how to avoid them.

Buying a Car Based on Looks

It’s easy to become frustrated with your options or lack thereof when buying a used car. When buying a new car, you have your pick of the latest models and features. Buying a used car can feel both more limiting and more overwhelming because you have decades worth of cars to choose from.

One thing you shouldn’t do is purchase a used car based on looks, alone. Sure, you want to like the look of your vehicle, but it also needs to come with the safety features suited to your region. For example, if you live somewhere with snowy winters or unpaved roads, you’re not going to want to pick a car that doesn’t have four-wheel drive just because it looks good.

Starting with research is a great way to prevent falling into this trap. While you don’t need to be on the hunt for one specific car, it’s useful to have an idea of what make and model would be your ideal find. You can also take a look at a car dealership’s inventory online and research the cars they have so that you know which ones you’re most interested in going in.

Passing Up the Test Drive

A reputable used car dealership is going to give you the chance to perform a test drive before you sign any contracts. Test drives aren’t just about assessing your comfort in a car. They’re also about detecting any immediately noticeable issues, including one of the most common problems with used cars: worn-out breaks.

In other words, even if you’re buying the exact make and model you’ve owned in the past, take the opportunity to drive the car. If you can, drive it off the lot to see how it performs at different speeds. Test the breaks by giving it both light and hard pumps to see if it responds quickly and appropriately to the pressure.

Not Consulting a Mechanic

Once again, reputable used car dealerships won’t expect you to make an uneducated decision about your purchase. They’ll allow you to bring a mechanic to investigate the undercarriage and the engine to look for signs that you might not be able to spot on your own.

Get in contact with a mechanic you trust and ask them to meet you at the dealership. Remember, not all car damage is visible, and it’s important to find out if there’s more than meets the eye before making your final choice.

Not Asking for a Vehicle History Report

Your mechanic may give a used car a current clean bill of health, but that doesn’t mean that the car hasn’t required service in the past. Asking for the vehicle history report is the best way to get a thorough understanding of the condition of the car.

What does a vehicle history report include? It should tell you about the service history of the vehicle, tracking any part replacements or repairs the vehicle has undergone. It should also tell you about any accidents the vehicle was involved in.

This is also a good way to find out if the car is still under warranty. The majority of used cars are no longer under warranty, as these tend to expire after a maximum of five years or 60,000 miles. However, it’s useful to know if your used car is still under warranty because this could save you money down the road.

Not Having a Second Option

If there’s one thing that you want to have when walking into a used car dealership, it’s leverage. When you have your sights set on one car and one car only, it makes it easier to get talked into a price point that is outside of your budget.

Make sure that you have at least two cars at two different dealerships in mind. That way, you won’t feel pressured into making a decision that you don’t want to make. You can also use that second option as leverage to try to knock down the price of your used car if it is slightly outside of your budget.

Going to the Dealership Alone

When you’re making a big decision, it can become difficult to ignore your emotional instincts. You might feel like you have to make a snap decision or you’ll run out of options. You might become so attached to a certain make and model that it’s easy to overlook glaring issues with the car in front of you.

We always recommend bringing a trusted friend or family member with you when heading to the used car dealership. Between your mechanic and this second person, you’ll have voices of reason balancing out your emotional instincts. This can prevent you from making a decision that you’ll regret down the line.

Forgetting About Insurance Rates

In Canada, you are required by law to insure your car. At a minimum, you must carry liability insurance and bodily injury coverage. That means that when you’re buying a car, you’re not looking at car payments, alone.

Different cars and their conditions can impact your insurance rates. For example, an insurance carrier might charge more for a car that has a lengthy vehicle history report or that requires a ton of work. Sometimes, buying a cheaper car that is more prone to break down won’t save you money in the long run, because it will cost more in maintenance and in insurance premiums.

Failing to Set a Budget

We’ve talked a lot about money, but only you can decide how much you’re able to pay for your car. Whether you intend to buy your used car with cash upfront or you want to pay it off in monthly installments, it’s useful to make a budget.

When setting a budget, it’s important to take a look at what you can expect to pay for different makes and models. The last thing you want to do is overpay for a car that should have cost less, even if the price tag fell within the range of your budget.

Plus, coming into a car dealership with a strict budget in mind can help when it comes to potential negotiations. You might be able to convince the dealer to knock a few hundred or thousand dollars off of the price tag when you tell them that you’re not willing to pay more than a set amount.

Taking the Dealership’s Financing Option

What if you do decide that you’d rather take on monthly car payments, rather than pay in cash upfront? For many car buyers, financing is a crucial component of being able to purchase a car. The key is making sure that you’re getting the best financing option you can.

Dealerships almost always offer financing programs, but they’re not necessarily the best for your bank account. Oftentimes, low monthly payments are offered in exchange for outrageous interest rates. While that low monthly payment can seem appealing, it doesn’t make sense to pay well over the asking price in interest over time.

We make it easy to find the perfect car loan for your budget and needs. Our customizable options and fast approval rates mean that you can walk away with the used car of your dreams without overpaying.

Informed Used Car Buyers Make Smart Choices

If you’re in the market for a used car, make sure to follow this guide to avoid common mistakes. The most informed car buyers make the smartest choices.

Working with CarsFast to secure financing is one of the first steps to take as an informed car buyer. Take a look at our website to learn more about the financing options that we offer.

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