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How to Buy a Used Car

Purchasing a used car can be an exciting, yet frustrating time. Many decisions need to be made prior to your purchase and the process can be overwhelming. Of course when meeting with sales people at a dealership or individual off Craigslist, a compelling case will be made as to why you ought to purchase the vehicle they are selling. However, equipping yourself with as much knowledge possible will protect you through the sale and the longevity of owning the vehicle. Realizing that you have options geographically through eBay Motors, AutoTrader.com, and other online auto auction platforms can help you purchase the exact vehicle you are looking for, but only when done safely.

Follow these steps to prevent a buying mistake when purchasing online:

1. Decide on your budget

It is important to make a financial decision before you even start to research your next vehicle. Looking at your budget to decide what your monthly payment, how your insurance rates may be affected or the cost of your annual tag fees will all need to be considered. Furthermore, looking into how much you may want to spend on warranties prior to the purchase may be another consideration in financing.

Many times, your budget is determined by your financing approval. Getting preapproved for a loan before shopping can help you gauge a realistic price point. Additionally, when you already have the exact amount you are willing to spend decided, you may have negotiating power with the seller.

2. Research and compare

You probably already have a vague idea of the type of car you are interested in, but educating yourself through consumer reviews, manufacturer’s websites, and Kelly Blue Book will provide valuable  information prior to shopping. Also, look into online forums, research complaints on different models, and find friends and family with that vehicle or manufacturer. Conducting a poll through your social outlets may also give you excellent feedback for your future vehicle—remember, everyone wants to give their opinion.

3. Start shopping

One you have narrowed down the types of vehicles, it is time to start shopping. Search listings through various platforms to compare value and find the features that make the most sense for your car buying needs. Check local auto dealership listings, Craigslist, eBay Motors, AutoTrader.com, and Cars.com to discover what is currently available. Now, you can start to narrow in on your purchase.

4. Check the car out

You have found the perfect car as it appears on the computer screen, but now is really the time to start making decisions. Look up the Carfax to make sure the seller’s claims are accurate. If the car is local, check it out and take the car for a test drive. Do as much research as possible on the vehicle and seller. Remember, the seller is checking you out by verifying you have financing and the means to purchase the car, it is completely in your rights to check the seller out as well. Read up on the dealership, Google search the individual and make sure you are putting yourself in a safe purchasing transaction.

5. Verify before you buy  

When the car is located in another part of the country, your purchase risk greatly increases. While you may have found the car of your dreams, the seller could have created an ad that is too good to be true. Before you put any money down on the vehicle, you can minimize your risk by having an actual person look at the vehicle. WeGoLook provides the service of dispatching a real person to look at a vehicle, take current photos, verify the VIN, and even take a video of a working demonstration. The WeGoLook Report starts at $59.00 and can be completed in plenty of time to make a purchasing decision before bidding on the vehicle. The extra assurance of having someone look at your future vehicle could save you thousands in the long run.

6. Use an Escrow Service

Once you have verified the vehicle you would like to purchase, won the bid, and are ready to move forward with the sale, the safest way to transfer the payment is through escrow. Escrow.com allows buyers and sellers to use a neutral party to complete the transaction. The buyer initiates the transaction by placing the financing in Escrow. Then the buyer transports the vehicle. When the buyer receives the vehicle and verifies it is in proper condition, Escrow.com releases the financing producing a safe and secure transaction.

7. Transport your vehicle

When purchasing online, the logistical costs and concerns need to be considered. WeGoShip helps buyers predict the cost of transport prior to purchasing the vehicle. Factoring in the cost of transport and taking the time to compare transport brokers could make a substantial difference in the total cost of the vehicle.

8. Joy ride!

You finally have your new (to you) car in the driveway. Take your car for a spin knowing that you purchased with confidence.