If you’re looking to buy a used car, you’re far from alone. Between private-party and dealership sales, nearly 40 million used cars exchange hands each year.
With so many choices, finding that one right car for you can be a challenge. So we’ve created a list of steps to help make finding and buying your perfect used car a breeze.
You can find good used cars in a variety of places, such as private-party sellers, new-car dealerships and used-car superstores.
Step 1: How Much Car Can You Afford?
A rule of thumb: If you’re taking out a loan to pay for your car, your car payment shouldn’t be more than 20 percent of your take-home pay. If you’re sticking to a tight budget, you may want to spend even less. Used cars will need a little extra attention from time to time: new tires, maintenance and the like. And then there are the other ownership costs shoppers sometimes forget to account for, such as fuel and insurance.
If the car you’re planning to buy is out of warranty, it might be a good idea to set aside a “just-in-case” fund to cover any unexpected repairs.
Step 2: Build a Target List of Used Cars
It’s no secret that the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry make for good used cars. But they might cost a few thousand more than a comparable Ford Fusion or Kia Optima, even though these are good cars, too. So if you’re looking to save money, consider more than one brand. We suggest making a list of three cars that meet your needs and fall within your budget. Edmunds reviews have great information to guide your choices.
If you’re planning to buy a vehicle that is less than 5 years old, consider one that’s certified pre-owned (CPO). CPO vehicles have long-term warranties that are backed by the carmakers, not just the dealership selling it to you. Franchised dealerships that sell that same brand new are the only ones who can sell a CPO car of the same brand. So if you wanted a CPO Chevy Cruze, for example, you’d need to buy it from a Chevy dealer.
Step 3: Check Prices
Prices are driven in part by where you’re shopping. You’ll find used cars in used-car sections of new-car dealerships, independent used-car lots, used-car retailers such as CarMax and websites where private-party sellers list their cars. Of the four, private-party cars will usually have the lowest selling price. CPO cars will usually cost the most, but for the reasons we’ve noted. To see what other people are paying for the models you’ve picked out, Edmunds offers a quick way to see the average price paid for the car in your area.
Step 4: Locate Used Cars for Sale in Your Area
One easy place to start building your target list is the Edmunds used-car inventory page. To find exactly the car you want, you can filter your search by many factors including the miles on the car’s odometer, its price and features, and dealer’s distance from you. Use the websites for other used-car marketplaces mentioned to save time.
Step 5: Check the Vehicle History Report
Unless you’re buying the car from a close friend or family member who can vouch for its history, plan to get a vehicle history report. This is an essential early step. If the car you’re looking at has a bad history report, the sooner you know the better.
AutoCheck and Carfax are the two best-known sources for vehicle history reports, which can reveal vital information about the car, including whether the odometer has been rolled back or if it has a salvage title, which means it has been declared a total loss by the insurance company. You’ll use the car’s vehicle identification number (VIN) to get this information, and in some cases, all you need is the license plate number.
Step 6: Contact the Seller
Once you find a good prospective car, don’t run out to see it. Call the seller first. This is a good way to establish a relationship with the seller and verify the information about the car. You can ask private-party sellers why they’re parting with a car, or whether it has any mechanical problems. And if you’re buying from a dealership, a phone call (or text) is the best way to ensure the car is still in stock.
Sometimes the seller will mention something that wasn’t in the ad that might change your decision to buy the car. If you want to go deeper, our used car questionnaire is a good reminder of what to ask. You will notice that the last question on our list is the asking price of the car. Although many people are tempted to negotiate even before they have laid eyes on the car, it’s better to wait. Once you see the car, you can tie your offer to its condition.
If things are going well, set up an appointment to test-drive the car. If possible, make it for daylight hours. That makes it easier to see the car’s condition.
Step 7: Test-Drive the Car
Test-driving a used car is the best way to know if this is the right car make and model for you. It’s also a good way to assess this particular car’s condition. So tune out distractions and focus on the car. Here are some things to check:
Is it easy to get in and out of the car without stooping or banging your head?
Is there enough headroom, hiproom and legroom? Remember to see how these feel in the backseat, too.
Is the driving position comfortable? Do you sit too low, too high or just right in the car? Can you tilt or telescope the steering wheel for a better fit?
Are the seats comfortable? Are they easily adjustable? Is there a lumbar support adjustment for the driver? How about the front-seat passenger?
Do you see a lit “check engine” light? If so, get that problem checked out before buying.
How is the visibility? Check the rearview mirror and the side mirrors. Look for potential blind spots.
Use your nose. Do you smell gas, burning oil, or anything amiss?
Check out the tires. How old are they? Is there enough tread left?
How are the brakes? Are they doing the job of stopping the car? Do they squeak?
Pop the hood. You don’t have to know a lot about cars to see if something looks wrong. If something is leaking, steaming or covered in oil, it’s time to ask questions.
Does the air-conditioning blow cold? Do headlights, brake lights and turn indicators work? Test them to be sure.
After the test drive, ask the owner or dealer if you can see the service records. These will show you if the car has had the scheduled maintenance performed on time.
Step 8: Have the Car Inspected
If you like the car, consider having a mechanic inspect it before you buy. If you don’t have a mechanic, Google and Yelp are good places to read local shops’ reviews. A prepurchase inspection costs $100-$200 and can alert you to problems you may not find yourself. It’s a smart investment.
A private-party seller will probably allow you to do this without much resistance. Most dealerships will let you borrow a car for an outside mechanic to inspect. You’ll be paying for this, of course. If it is a CPO car, there’s already been an inspection and the car has a warranty, so there is little reason to take it to an independent mechanic.
Step 9: Negotiate a Good Deal
Does the idea of “talking numbers” fill you with dread? It shouldn’t. Negotiating doesn’t have to be a drawn-out, traumatic experience. If you are reasonable and have a plan, chances are you can make a deal pretty quickly and easily:
Decide ahead of time how much you’re willing to spend to get the car. But don’t start with this number in your discussion.
Make an opening offer that is lower than your maximum price, but in the ballpark based on your average price paid research in Step 3. Explain that you’ve done research on Edmunds or wherever else, so you have facts to support your offer.
If you and the seller arrive at a price that sounds good to you and is near the average price paid, you’re probably in good shape.
And remember, the people on the other side probably hate negotiating too (even if it’s their job).
Step 10: Get the Paperwork Done
If you are at a dealership, you’ll sign the contract in the finance and insurance office. There, you will likely be offered additional items, such as a warranty, anti-theft devices, prepaid service plans or fabric protection.
Some people want the peace of mind that comes with extended warranties, so this is something you might want to consider (unless the car is still under the manufacturer’s warranty or is a CPO vehicle). Review the dealership sales contract thoroughly. In most states, it lists the cost of the vehicle, a documentation fee, possibly a small charge for a smog certificate, sales tax and license fees.
If you are buying a car from an individual owner, make sure the seller properly transfers the title and registration to you. It’s important to close the deal correctly to avoid after-sale hassles. Before money changes hands, ask for the title (which is sometimes called the pink slip) and have the seller sign it over to you. Rules governing vehicle registration and licensing vary from state to state. If possible, check with your local department of motor vehicles to make sure there are no past-due registration fees you’d be responsible for should you buy the car. Whether you buy from a dealer or a private party, make sure you have insurance for the car before you drive it away.
Once you’ve done the paperwork, it’s time to celebrate your new purchase – maybe with a drive-through dinner. You deserve it!
Depending on where you live in the world, you may only be required to attach a single license plate to your car. Other areas require drivers to fit the standard plate in the rear and an additional plate on the front. In the United States, there are only 19 states that do not require a front license plate and 31 which require you to have both.
Here in California, you have to ruin the front of your car with a plate on the grille or bumper, which, to us, looks terrible especially on the types of cars that we have within our fleet!
While Europe’s license plates are quite small, US plates are large and especially difficult to mount on supercars. Many supercar owners have come up with clever ways to mount the plates while others choose to leave it off and risk getting a ticket.
According to a Texas newspaper, local Republican congressman Ken King is pushing House Bill 673, which would exempt certain cars from needing a front plate.
State law already exempts “a road tractor, a motorcycle, a trailer, (and) a semitrailer,” but King wants to add “a luxury passenger car” to section 504.943 of the Texas Transportation Code. The rule would define a luxury car as any vehicle “that has a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of at least $60,000 for a baseline model.”
Have you ever wondered why the marque of a Maserati and the emblem that each new Maserati proudly boasts is a trident?
The trident is, of course, a symbol imbued with a great deal of meaning. According to legend, it once belonged to Neptune, the mythical god of the sea. In Bologna, Italy, there’s even a statue of Neptune holding his trident confidently towards the sky. It is the trident in this statue that Mario Maserati, one of the original Maserati brothers, purportedly used as inspiration for the what has now become Maserati’s longstanding brand logo, and an unshakable part of its identity. Ready to Forge Your Path with the Confidence of a god? There’s a Maserati for that.
Could driving a Maserati give you the kind of confidence similar to a god? We certainly think so!
Go to Germany and more than likely the most popular police cars you’ll spot are Volkswagen Passat wagons and the like. Nothing special, right? But if you spend a bit more time in the bier and wurst-loving country, it’s possible you could see some pretty cool cop cars.
Most American police departments purchase Ford Interceptor SUVs, modified Dodge Chargers and Chevrolet Caprices. They’re cool and all but not nearly as cool as, say, a Corvette Stingray with rollers bolted to its roof. (Have you seen any cop with a Stingray pull anybody over?)
Tickets are no fun in any country, but Tickets are no fun in any country, but c’mon America, we’re better than this!
Buying a car can be a stressful experience. Whether you are worried about quality, price, or longevity there are many factors to consider. We here at North State Auto hope to shed some light on the car buying process and show you the benefits of purchasing a used vehicle.
Benefits of Buying a Pre-Owned Vehicle Instead of a New Vehicle
Cost: This is the most obvious benefit when a prospective shopper considers a high quality pre-owned car. With a reduced cost you may be able to splurge a bit and buy up to a higher quality model that you otherwise might not want to spend top dollar on.
Insurance: Used Vehicles are generally cheaper to insure. This is the rule, but there are some exceptions. Cars naturally go through normal wear with daily driving and this will reduce the cost of insurance.
Choice: When you buy a new car from a dealership you are often limited. Us on the other hand have a wide selection of quality makes and models in the exact color you are specifically looking for.
One common concern when buying a used car is quality. Many people think that when you buy a used car you are buying some else’s headaches. However, cars are made better these days, the stigma of used car quality is being done away with by excellent craftsmanship and ingenuity of the auto industry. Chances are that if you buy a used car that was made in the last five years or so, you are still getting a high quality vehicle.
In addition, we give you a 3 month / 3,000 mile warranty alongside our own standards we live up to that is tied directly with our reputation.
#northstateauto #bayarealuxuryvehicles #marinimports
The BMW Group achieved its eighth consecutive annual sales record with a total of 2.49 million of BMW, MINI and Rolls-Royce delivered around the world in 2018.
These results reconfirms the BMW Group’s position as the world’s number one premium automotive manufacturer, which was primarily driven by X vehicles and the BMW 5 Series.
Based on the sales totals, worldwide, the BMW 5 Series is the World’s Most Popular Premium Large Sedan.
Looking for a BMW? We have a great selection you can check out in our inventory tab.
Have a great day!
We’ve seen spy photos of the Audi Q4 in the past but these new ones are the closest and clearest yet. In them, we can clearly see that this new Q4 looks very much like a mini version of the Audi Q8, which isn’t all that surprising.
Coupe-like crossovers are becoming more and more popular. Take BMW, for instance. There’s now a BMW X2, X4, X6 and possibly a future X8. Mercedes-Benz has the GLA-Class, GLC-Coupe and GLE-Coupe. So it was only a matter of time for Audi to make a Q4.
Although Audi is new to the scene, the Audi Q8 was the first coupe-like SUV the brand has but is finding itself to be a competitor in it’s space. The new Q4 looks very much like Q8 and that’s a good thing.
In these new spy photos, it gets a similar face to the Audi Q3 (grille, headlights and front air intakes..so are the taillights.) Now comparing it to the big Q8, it has the same sort of flared wheel arches at the back, similar roof line and of course, profile.
Yes, the Audi Q4 is based off of the Q3 but will feature the couple-SUV styling like the Q8.
Overall thoughts is that it’s a sporty, stylish and athletic crossover. We can’t wait to see the real thing!
Some say that when you, “Look good, you feel good.” Here at North State Auto, we take it further to say, “When you feel good, you perform better.”
And that’s to what we do within our lives, jobs, and careers. Dressing for success isn’t just clothing, but also extends to the type of car you drive. As we all know, everything that we do has to start with your mindset to bring out the motivation, and the drive to not only meet, but exceed your own expectations to boost your performance.