Car Buyer Labs

Car Buying Advice, Tips, and Reviews

An above view shows a couple and salesman in front of a silver car.

How to Buy a Used Car Even if You’ve Never Done It Before

Purchasing a car is, undoubtedly, one of the most significant life decisions a person can ever make. With so much terminology to know and so many makes and models out there, the entire process can be confusing to say the least. This confusion only multiplies for people who don’t know anything about cars. When buying a vehicle, many buyers tend to look for one single thing: low priced cars. Despite this overwhelming similarity, there are other factors to consider, and many of them vary from one buyer to the next.

Some people need more passenger space: a family of four compared to a single male, for example. Some people prefer more cargo space or even loyalty to a specific company or brand: Ford, Chevrolet, Honda, etc. Some people’s needs are determined by their residence: living in a state with harsh winters and icy roads requires different tires than places that don’t see traditional winter weather. No matter what needs any buyer may have, there is a vehicle out there for every person. All other qualifications, whatever they may be, still tend to fall after the sticker price, making it the most important factor. One of the best ways to buy low price cars is to buy one that was pre-owned or used.

Why Should You Buy a Used Vehicle?

Buying a used vehicle may offer the biggest advantage in terms of knowledge. Not only can the make and model be researched ahead of time, but either the previous owner or a vehicle history report may fill a potential buyer in on what a specific vehicle has been through. Knowing a car’s history or quirks in advance can be a huge boon to any hopeful owner. Buying used is also the cheapest option, whether you are looking at expected down payment, the total amount paid, or interest accrued. A used car can save, on average, nearly $10k over six years of ownership when compared to buying new.

Another advantage of buying cheap used cars is an assurance towards reliability. If a car has already been owned for several years and is being sold at a good value, the odds are good it will last a significant time for its new owner as well. Older models, usually, were also built to last. They may be lacking the bells and whistles of modern technology––the most upgraded audio system, for example––but there is no reason not to buy a low-priced car just because it isn’t at the cutting edge. A car that is only a few years old can still be perfectly serviceable and affordable.

A salesman is talking to a man sitting in a silver low priced car.

Tips for First Time Car Buyers

As a buyer of a used car, do your due diligence in advance. Consider what you need, how much you are willing to pay, any bonuses you would like in your next vehicle, and what details are deal breakers for you. Look into things like a car’s expected fuel economy or a given model’s average price when new or used. Before you set foot on a used car lot, have a few different makes and models in mind to check out. Look into reviews from previous owners to get an idea of how cars of the chosen make and model continue to work over time. Do not worry about superficial things like the color of the exterior.

Keeping different makes and models on your list of potential vehicles to purchase ensures that there will be more to look at once you are at a used car lot. If you set a goal to get one specific make or model, your search may become unnecessarily complicated, since not all car lots can carry every possible make and model. You also might end up overpaying for your own goal to own a specific car. Instead, find one style you like and then research similar vehicles to add to your list of candidates. You may enjoy unexpected bonuses by looking at other makes and models that still meet your standard requirements and may even find something cheaper.

Having a set budget will keep your search for a low priced car better targeted. Using a used car lot in the first place will offer further protection thanks to lemon laws. These laws, applicable all across most of the United States in one form or another, give buyers a remedy for any goods they may purchase that fail to meet quality standards. These remedies can come in the form of refunds or a replacement product of equal value. In short: if you are sold a car that immediately breaks down, the dealer must offer a replacement or refund if said break down was not caused by negligence.

When buying a car, even a used one, some extra benefits are standard at any dealer. For example, offering cash for the down payment, if not the full amount of the vehicle, can save money. Having a high credit score can do the same. Discontinued models also sell very cheaply. One other tip for buying a low priced car is to avoid car shopping in the month of April. When demand is high, with refund checks from tax returns coming in, prices tend to climb. Local weather can also be a factor worth considering. If you live in an area that sees heavy snow, for example, the price of convertibles will drop in fall and winter months.

A salesman is handing a couple the keys to a used car with paperwork on the table.

What to Know Ahead of Time

Knowing the average market cost of the vehicle you are looking for can be a strong bargaining tool. Websites like Kelley Blue Book or Edmunds track and list such prices, which can serve as a reference point before you set foot on any car lot. Checking at multiple lots can also give you a range of prices and options to consider. If you reach the point of negotiating price, stress that you are asking about the purchase price as opposed to a focus on monthly payments. Some dealers may not be fond of this tactic, but it is much easier to deal with and negotiate based off of a single round number, and that is the total purchase price for the vehicle.

Anyone looking to buy a low priced car needs to know in advance what they will and will not negotiate on. Know how much you can spend for a down payment, monthly payment, and what you are willing to pay in total. Know which models you want to look at and what comparative models you are willing to consider if your first choice is not available. Asking about things like a given vehicle’s history and even initial discussions on pricing can also be done over the phone. Get as much in line before you step on a car lot to test drive the model of the car you have chosen so you’ll know in advance exactly what to expect. If you remember these tips, there is no doubt you can find a low priced car that will be in your budget, see to your every need, and keep you on the road for many years to come.