Shopping for a vehicle is exciting, and it should be fun. You never want to regret which one you purchased or how much you paid for it. There are many reasons why you may be shopping for a vehicle right now. Perhaps your family size has increased or decreased. You may need something better on fuel to commute back and forth to work. Your current vehicle may be on its last leg.
No matter why you are shopping for a new vehicle or a used vehicle, take your time to get exactly what you need. Verify the vehicle will hold up well and be worth the investment. Ensure you can meet the payments and not struggle with them. When you complete research and look at options, you can move forward with a vehicle purchase confidently.
What is the history of that particular vehicle? For example, how many people have owned it since it was brand new? Will you be the first owner? If it is a private seller, why are they selling the vehicle? The more details you gain about the history the easier it is to decide if that vehicle is a good match for your needs.
A vehicle can look great on the outside, hiding it has been in one or more accidents. This can reduce the value of the vehicle, even when such repairs were completed. Paying for a Carfax is a good way to find out about the background of a vehicle and any accidents it may have been involved with. All registered owners of that vehicle will be listed. A vehicle with a lengthy ownership list can indicate it has issues and people get rid of it!
Are there any recalls on the vehicle? Have there been any in the past? A Carfax history will give you those details. It is important to verify any such recalls have been successfully taken care of before you buy the vehicle. It is worth paying for this report, and it shouldn’t cost you more than $50.
Is the title to the vehicle free and clear? If you buy from a dealership this isn’t a concern. If you buy from a private party, you have to verify this information. Ask to see a copy of the title proving they have legal ownership of that vehicle. If more than one name is on that title, all parties will have to agree to the sale.
Sometimes, they still owe money on the vehicle. They plan to take what you pay them for it and pay off that loan to get you the title. This can still be a great deal, but you should be very selective working with such individuals. The transaction details should be in writing and each person involved signs it. This includes the purchase price, their agreement to pay off the loan and get you the title, and other details.
Never pay a private seller in cash for a used vehicle. You have no way to back up your claim that you paid them for the vehicle. Always pay them with a method that has a paper trail you can use for documentation if any issues arise.
Is the Price Fair?
How much is a given vehicle worth? That depends on many variables including:
Conduct your own research to verify the asking price is reasonable. If you can get the VIN # that will help you find out what that specific value is. If not, the above information will help you get a general idea. If the vehicle has low mileage or some extras added to it, they may be asking more for it.
Sometimes, a private seller asks too much for a vehicle. They may need a certain amount of cash for something else. They may be inflating the price due to the sentimental attachment they have to that vehicle. Share with them the information you have on the fair price for that vehicle. If they aren’t willing to accept that amount, it may not be the best vehicle for you to invest in.
Dealerships tend to know the value of vehicles, both new and used. However, the price will be higher than the retail value of it. This is because they have to cover their costs involved with the vehicle. If they can’t make a profit, they won’t stay in business. For used vehicles, any inspections and repairs completed on a vehicle before they list it can increase the price to help them recoup their investment.
Inspection by an Expert 3rd Party
Most of us don’t know much about what is under the hood of a vehicle. We know the basics of how it operates. Before you buy any vehicle, especially a used one, get it inspected by an expert 3rd party. They know what to look for and they can prevent you from paying for a vehicle that has some underlying issues.
If the seller has nothing to hide, they won’t mind if you have the vehicle inspected by a professional. You will have to pay for that cost, but it is inexpensive. You will pay for that inspection even if the results cause you not to buy the vehicle. If a seller doesn’t approve for that inspection to be done, that should be a red flag to you.
If you buy a vehicle from a dealership, they should have someone SGI certified inspecting any vehicles they offer. Find out what they look at and ask for a copy of that inspection. Some of them look at 90 points on the vehicle. Others look at 150 or 240 points, offering a more in-depth inspection process.
Returns and Warranty Information
When you purchase a new vehicle, it should include a warranty on the vehicle. This tends to cover certain aspects of the vehicle for a set period of time. It may be for a certain number of miles or that timeframe, whichever you reach first. For used vehicles, they may be sold as is or with a limited warranty. Always read through the terms of any warranty offered. Some of them are very generous while others have very little coverage.
Typically, you can’t return a vehicle you purchased. There are some exceptions though, including the Lemon Laws. If a vehicle has ongoing issues and you can prove you have taken it in to be evaluated or repaired, that can be a reason for a return. If the underlying issue can’t be found and the seller is proven to have knowledge such an issue existed prior to selling it they can be held liable.
If you try to return a vehicle and the dealership or private seller won’t take it back, you may have to get an attorney involved. You may have to go to court to get your money refunded. With a dealership, they may offer you another vehicle of equal or higher value to compensate you for a vehicle you felt you had to return.
Bill of Sale
If you feel the vehicle is a good option, move forward with the process. With a private seller, get the title signed over to you and a bill of sale for your records. With a dealership, all of the paperwork you need will be completed on-site and filed for you. If you finance the vehicle, read through the terms. It is important to know your interest rate, payment amount, number of payments, and other details before you sign the documents.
Dealers often include a variety of fees in the cost of the vehicles they sell. These fees have to be fully disclosed and itemised. Such fees can include:
- Admin fees
- Delivery fee
- Document fees