Buying a used car: a complete guide


When people start shopping around for a used car, they tend to look for a vehicle that’s around three years old. Generally, buyers are looking for that used car “sweet spot” – which makes perfect sense.

Depending on the model and mileage, a three-year-old car is typically half the price of when it was new, but it can still run for many years to come.

Of course, there are plenty of decent cars that are more than five years old at King of Cars in Pasadena – you just need to remember that they may end up costing more in repairs than their younger counterparts.

Here’s everything you need to know about the process of buying your next used car and what to expect.   

Step One: Get Your Finances in Order

Because a car carries a substantial outlay, you should see it as an investment. However, you should create a budget before setting foot in a dealership.

Decide how you’ll finance the car – whether you’ll be paying it off in instalments, taking out a personal loan, or paying for it in cash. Once you know where the money will be coming from, determine how much money you can afford to put down as a deposit and how much you can pay every month.

If you know your financial situation and have budgeted accordingly, you’ll be less likely to buy a more expensive car on impulse.

Step Two: Shop Around

When you’re in the market for a used car, researching price benchmarks online is an excellent way to ensure you don’t overpay for the make and model you want.

By researching the ballpark price of the cars within your budget, you’ll be able to gauge whether you can get the vehicle you want for less elsewhere. Researching cars also opens up a lot of options in terms of choice – so if you don’t feel like a particular car is a good fit, you won’t feel pressured into buying it when you visit a dealership.

Step Three: Check the Paperwork

When purchasing a used car – whether privately or from a dealership – you should always check the vehicle’s paperwork. Compare the chassis numbers and logbook registration in the paperwork to the ones on the car, and watch out for discrepancies in the service record.

You should also look for sales receipts, conduct an HPI check and car check reg, and look the car up online to ensure it doesn’t have a hidden or dubious history.

Step Four: Inspect the Car Thoroughly

When it’s time to inspect the car physically you intend to buy, performing a thorough inspection is essential.

Take your time to look over every inch of the car – inside and out. Don’t forget to check that any electronic components (like the windscreen wipers, headlights, air conditioning, windows, and other accessories) work as they should.

Step Five: Take it for a Test Drive

When you take the car out for a test drive, it’s vital to ensure the handling and performance meet your expectations. Some key points to check are if the car starts easily, if any strange sounds are coming from the engine, or if the steering pulls to one side.

Before taking the car out for a test drive, don’t forget to make sure you have your auto insurance in place.

Step Six: Seal the Deal

Once you’ve inspected the car, taken it for a test drive, and agreed on a price, it’s crucial to secure all the terms of sale in writing. The sale documentation should include the car’s details, the price, and the seller’s name and address.

If you’re buying the car from a reputable dealership, ensure that the monthly payment terms and deposit are explained to you. If you’re purchasing the vehicle privately, opt for a wire transfer rather than carrying a large amount of cash.

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