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Traverse City Mi 49686
Garfield Auto Service Center
725 S Garfield Ave
Traverse City Mi 49686
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How To Buy A Used Car

December 21, 2020, 12:00 am

Looking to buy a used car this spring? With inventory at dealerships finally hitting normal levels and many consumers looking to get a new ride, the used car market could be hot this year. Here’s a look at how to get started in your used car search and set yourself up for a good fit. 

Buying a used car is a big purchase and a big decision, especially with so many variables. Looking at mileage is only one element that determines the value of a car, and isn’t often useful in determining exactly what you’re buying. We’ll take you through a few steps to picking the right used car. 

Set A Budget. Start with what you can afford. That may mean saving for several months to get enough cash on hand to pay outright, or looking for auto loan options. There are many lenders these days, so ask around and get rates from a variety of sources. It’s also important to look at your monthly payment and keep in mind that the vehicle may need additional work from Day One, or shortly down the road, so balance your down payment with having something on hand for anything that comes up in the first month or two. 

You’ll also want to set aside a little cash for insurance, taxes, and any title and registration fees that may be processed in your state. 

Narrow It Down. Picking a car is the fun part! Start broadly with a body type that suits your needs. From pickups to minivans, hatchbacks to sedans, think about how you use your vehicle most of the time. If you mostly need a grocery getter, a small, fuel-efficient sedan might be perfect. If you often get picked as the designated kid-mover for the little league team, a van or SUV may make sense. 

It’s also important to consider fuel efficiency by taking into how you drive. Some vehicles are much more efficient driving in the city than others, while some have an even more marked improvement on highways than similar models. 

Do Your Research. Once you’ve got it narrowed down to a specific category, you’ll be able to look at the best models from any given class. Take your time to look at reliability, safety, and other ratings on the vehicles that suit your needs. Many manufacturers offer models in every category, and most have some particular quirks or issues based on specific years or engine types. 

Start Pricing. With a top candidate in mind, start finding the appropriate price for the car you’re looking at based on year, trim package, mileage, and condition. There are many, many ways to look up how to determine a fair market price these days, but we recommend Kelly Blue Book for finding a reliable range. 

Negotiation. Whether you’re working with a private seller or a dealer, learn as much as you can about the history of the vehicle in question. Using an online database like CarFax can give you a detailed history of car repairs, how many owners it may have had, and when certain big repairs were made. Always look for warranty fixes that were or were not made for a particular model, and check for the accident history as well. These reports usually cost around $40 and you’ll need the VIN, but most motivated sellers will have no problem paying for this if it means completing the sale. 

Buying with a private seller is very different than at a dealership. With a private party, come with notes, including the Kelly Blue Book value of the vehicle and any pressing repairs you anticipate needing to make. Most often, you’ll be able to meet halfway, and if you aren’t comfortable paying more than what your research has uncovered, don’t be afraid to leave and call a day or two later; they may be tired of trying to sell the car and lower their price. 

On the lot, you’re up against pros. A few basic tips are:

-Avoid talking numbers in a sales office. If you get pulled inside, ask to look at it one more time and talk price one-on-one. 

-If you’re paying cash, you’re saving them a lot of legwork in dealing with loans on your behalf. Emphasize getting the car off the lot quickly and getting the price on their books. 

-Always write down fees and include them in the final price. It’s easy to settle on, say, $6,000 and then find $500 or more in fees that come out of the word work. Start from that final price and show them the fees coming out of that total, not getting tacked on. 

-Never act like you need it. When you make an offer, make it reasonable, and if it’s turned down, make sure they know there are many other used cars out there that may suit your budget better. They might let you walk, but they may also do more to keep you around and interested. 

Posted by Garfield Auto at 12:00 am
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