In the 2nd part of Buying A Used Car, we discussed deciding on what kind of vehicle you need before beginning the car search. If you’re like most people, you’ve found that a couple of types will work. For example, if you have a small family, you could be well served by a midsize sedan or a small SUV. Or, you may find that you often haul your family and sometimes other items. You may need a large SUV or a crew-cab pickup. Either way, I hope you’ve settled on a type or two; if not, you really should before you progress any further on the car buying journey.
Once you’ve settled on the type of car you need, it’s time to begin looking for those kinds of cars in your area; it’s time for the car search. This may be through sales papers or by driving by dealerships, but, let’s be honest, it’ll probably be through internet searches. To be sure, a Google search will return more results than you can handle, but don’t forget to look on other platforms like Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, Ebay, LetGo, and OfferUp. Also, you can visit the various car listing sites like carsforsale.com, cargurus.com, cars.com, etc. Not only do online searches make finding cars easier, it also provides you with the ability to read reviews of the seller, at least in the case of dealerships.
At this point, you’re probably going to be looking at two types of ads: those from dealerships and those from private sellers. Automobiles sold by individuals will probably be the cheapest, but, more than likely, will not be offered with financing; dealerships will probably have cash-only and financing deals. Whether you’re looking at an ad from an individual or dealership, you need to make sure the vehicle is priced in the average range for your area. To check, you can use one of the many websites that show the average price for a particular car in your area (TruCar, KBB, or Edmunds are some examples). If the ad is one from a dealership, make sure that dealership offers the buying features that you’re looking for, like financing, trade-ins, acceptance of your credit level, or reasonable down payments. It’s best to find a few potential purchases from more than one seller- it’s easier to walk out on a bad deal if you know you have other deals to consider. Once you’ve completed your search, you’re ready for the next step, calling for an appointment.