Our Best Tips for Buying a Used Car

Posted Wednesday, Jan 26, 2022

The stress of buying a used car can be intimidating. Here are our best tips for buying a used car so you don’t drive off with a lemon.

The main reason for the stress? Lack of information and being unprepared. Stay focused before visiting the dealership. Salespeople will often try to upsell you on something more expensive, don’t get distracted from your budget and goal.

Remember to bring your financial documents, if you have to leave and return you might lose out on a vehicle if you don’t have what you need.

We don’t want you to feel that way. At City Wide Motors, we want this experience to be exciting and beneficial for you and your future passengers. Driving your dream is our mission and we want to accelerate your future.

The following steps will help you get there.

  1. Paying For Your Vehicle

Start your search by deciding what you can afford and how you will pay for it. Paying full cash means you avoid interest, monthly payments, and credit checks. But, believe it or not, getting a loan can help you gain financially.

  1. Do you need to build up your credit score for a larger loan later on?

If your credit score is low, or you have plans to apply for a loan later on (like a house), having good credit will increase your chances of getting a higher loan amount.

  1. Are there bonuses or cash incentives from the dealer if you finance through them?

Many dealerships will give you cash back and bonuses like oil changes if you finance through the used cars dealership.

  1. Will you save money by financing?

If you have enough cash on hand to purchase a car outright, your money is gone. But, if you finance a car at a low-interest rate, you can keep the bulk of your cash in the bank where it will draw interest and can earn you more money.

  1. Will paying cash wipe out your savings?

Emergencies happen, prices of bills, gas, and groceries increase, and a host of other things you may need money for. Never deplete your savings entirely for anything.

  1. Is there a warranty on the vehicle if you finance it?

Dealerships of pre-owned vehicles may have a limited warranty as part of the used vehicle financing deal.

Check out all options, incentives, and financing terms and conditions before buying a used car.

For financing, City Wide beats most dealerships as regardless of credit history we help you get into your dream used car. We’ve got creative financing options so that no matter what, we can help you drive your dream.

  1. Needs vs. Wants

With all the nifty features in cars nowadays it’s easy to get swept away with the bells and whistles and lose track of a car’s purpose: To get you from point A to point B.

That’s not to say the cool tools aren’t worth it (who doesn’t love heated seats??), but it’s important to separate your wants from your needs.

Similar to a pros and cons list, create a needs vs. wants list. Think about what you need the vehicle for and then work on the wants.

Do you… drive a lot on the highway or freeway?

You need a car that is well taken care of and continue to keep it maintained to expand its life. You might want a car with low mileage as you will accrue more miles driving longer distances.

Do you… drive in the mountains?

You will likely need a truck or SUV with 4-wheel drive, a more powerful engine, great suspension, and higher ground clearance. You might want tons of cargo room, driver safety features, traction control, or those coveted heated seats and steering wheel.

Do you… deal with stop ‘n go of city driving?

You need something with great gas mileage and great maneuverability (think tight turns and congestion.) You might want driver safety assist, parking assist, rearview camera, and deep cupholders for when you have to slam on the brakes. Trust us on this.

Think about how you will use your vehicle and what your must-haves are. The point of any vehicle is to get you where you need to go safely and reliably. The rest is just gravy.

  1. Vehicle & Dealership Research

Alright, you’ve got your finances in order and you know what you need and want. Now it’s time to… Go Shopping!

Cue the dreaded groans.

There’s a reason people hate shopping for cars. In fact, there are a few. People don’t want to pay a lot, there is always a risk of the pesky lemon, and haggling with dealers is just … terrible.

The good news is if you have a plan to buy a used car you can turn that frown upside down! After you’ve figured out how you’re going to pay for the car and have an idea of what you need you can start researching the vehicles that will fit your budget and your drive.

  1. Start with what kind of car you want.

  1. Do you want an SUV?
  2. How many seats do you need?
  3. Do you need something that hauls a trailer?
  1. Search online for current inventory near you.

  1. Use filters for your budget and browse current inventory. Using the budget filter is important as you don’t want to look at something worth more than what you’ve decided you can afford. You will want that and start looking for ways to get it.

By the way, City Wide has an amazing filter system so you can look for the options you need and the options you want!

  1. Make a list of the cars that match your needs and look them up individually. Check the testimonials, car reviews, recalls, etc.
  1. Research local dealerships.

  1. Each dealership offers the most amazing deals ever. Don’t believe that? Just ask them! The bottom line, each dealership will advertise great pricing, easy financing, and customer care.

What you need to ask yourself is what you want from a dealership and then look for is the proof behind those statements.

Do you want a warranty with your purchase?

Would you want regular maintenance included?

Do you want easy financing options?

Do you want tags, taxes, and fees included?

By the way, if you answered yes to the above questions, have we got a deal for you! City Wide provides all of that and more!

  1. Test Drive

The last step when deciding to buy a used car: The Test Drive. This is the most important step in the process. You will need to drive the car and test each feature to ensure things are in top shape.

Some of the things you will want to test out are:

  1. Check all electronic controls – Stereo, Apps, BlueTooth, etc.
  2. Test all the seats, mirrors, and window controls.
  3. Latch and unlatch all the seatbelts and test their restraint.
  4. Open the hood, gas cap, and trunk.
  5. Turn on (and off) the headlights, windshield wipers, and all dash and dome lights.
  6. Open all the vents and check the airflow of the heating and air conditioning.
  7. Look through all the mirrors, open all the doors, engage the locks.
  8. Drive the car in each gear to check for smooth shifting.
  9. Turn, reverse, and park – Check drive assist features if applicable.
  10. Check the engine for cleanliness, broken parts, and fluids.

Any of these items that aren’t in top shape can help you as you negotiate a better purchase price or veto the vehicle altogether.

Avoiding buyer’s remorse is what every car shopper seeks to find when buying a used vehicle. At City Wide Motors, we turn lemons into lemonade with our full-service system complete with fantastic financing, a limited power train warranty, fee payments, lease options, and so much more.

Our customers have enjoyed fabulous service, free oil changes, credit options, and optimal trade-in value. Our inventory changes frequently and if you have a specific car in mind, we’ll do the shopping for you!

Getting on the road has never been easier and we want to help you get where you’re going. Give us a call or stop by today and let’s get started!