Know Your History
This point cannot be reiterated enough! A vehicle's history is very important; if you come across a dealer or private seller who will not provide you with an automobile's detailed history, you should be extremely wary. Do not be afraid to walk away. If a seller does not meet your needs or doesn't see the value in your questions, you can do better. There are a number of reputable businesses out there that specialize in used cars, and these professionals will make sure you are completely comfortable with a vehicle's past before they start the negotiations.
You should have a solid idea of the market value of anything you buy before starting negotiations. Make your first offer low. It is always easier to come back up to value price than it is to go down. This is a common practice, and if you are dealing with a professional, it will probably not be overly effective. However, if you remain firm and go up slowly, you can probably get yourself a pretty good deal.
Here is a little checklist of things you should be sure to look at before you make any sort of deal.
- Ensure that the paint job is uniform, all the exterior parts line up and are properly attached, the tires are evenly worn, and the doors open and close with no issues.
- Pop the hood and look for any leaking hoses, dirty oil stains, or worn belts. Also check to be sure that all of your fluid levels are at the proper spot.
- Make sure you are comfortable in the driver's seat. See if you can turn the key comfortably without any issues, and start the vehicle up to be sure no warning lights are on.
- Take it out on the road. While test-driving any automobile you are interested in, make sure all of your mirrors are visible, work the engine out at a number of speeds and road conditions, and ensure the visibility provided by your headlights.
- Take it to a professional. This is the best way to find any lingering issues that may not be apparent to your untrained eyes. A mechanic can also look for signs of flood damage in the engine and transmission. It will cost you a bit of money to have the automobile inspected, but it could save you a lot of money down the road.