10 Steps to Buying a Used Car
- Choose the right vehicle for you by making sure the car suits your needs.
- Consider all cars in the class you have chosen and make a target list of three cars.
- Look up the car on Edmunds.com and check its reliability and consumer reviews.
- Check the Edmunds.com TMV price on the car you want to buy (adjusted for mileage, options, color and region).
- Look up the Edmunds.com True Cost to Own (TCO) for the car you want to buy.
- Decide how you are going to finance your car. If you are going through a bank, online lender or credit union, obtain loan approval before you start shopping.
- If you are financing the car, use the payment calculators to determine the monthly payment for the car you want to buy.
- Search Edmunds Used Vehicle Listings and other online classifieds for the used car you've decided to buy.
- If you are buying from a dealership, contact the Internet department and simultaneously solicit quotes from multiple dealers.
- Ask the salesperson to fax you a worksheet showing all the prices, taxes and fees.
- If you are trading in your old car, check its Edmunds.com TMV and print out this information.
- Bring your worksheet with you to the dealership so you can compare these numbers to the figures on the contract.
- If you are buying from a private seller, call the person and verify the pertinent information. Get the VIN and run a vehicle history report.
- Test-drive the car under your normal driving conditions.
- Take the car to a mechanic for an inspection unless it's a certified pre-owned car, backed by the manufacturer's CPO warranty.
- Negotiate your best deal.
- Read the contract carefully before signing and always make sure you get a clean title.
- Inspect the car for dents, dings and scratches before taking final delivery.