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Buy Used Cars: Sensible Tips on Buying Secondhand Vehicles

Who says old can't be great? These tips on buying secondhand cars will help change your mind.

By: Viktor Austria | August 06, 2019
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Given rising costs of living, buying a used car is now a more attractive prospect.

The science behind buying secondhand cars can be difficult to decipher. It’s not as straightforward as buying a new car, and the risks you can run into level the opportunities to save.

But given the right street smarts and a sense of importance, to buy used cars should not only save you from splurging, but might even be satisfying, too. Besides, a secondhand car can still be your perfect companion, and when you’re out on the road, it’s still the performance – not its price tag or popularity – that matters.

Here’s a handful of useful tips to help you buy used cars!

1. Find a car that fits your needs.

used cars

You can ask your family members for their preferences as passengers too.

How far do you usually travel? How many passengers do you need to accommodate? Do you need cargo space? Do you have a big enough garage? These are the questions you need answered when buying your first used car, or any vehicle for that matter.

Once you’ve settled all your basic urgencies, that’s when you can look for car features that fit your fancies. This is where its being secondhand counts; consider vehicles that still pack useful peripherals or have been customized or remastered by their previous owners, and see how they suit your style.

2. Look up the brand, make, and model.

car shopping

You can visit an actual dealership to get an idea on that brand’s vehicle specs.

Whether you’re a car aficionado or just a casual driver, it counts to consider the car model and make of your secondhand vehicle. Car brands are characterized by their cars’ performance: fuel economy, safety features, handling, and running costs, and most importantly, reputation, all affect certain car brands’ viability.

Also, teaching yourself about car types gives you an idea about where a certain car brand excels. How do their sedan, hatchback, pick-up, or van models fare? How does a certain brand’s service bay rate against others? In doing so, you build both knowledge and rapport with that brand.

3. Measure its mileage.

second hand cars

Check to see if the odometers have been wound back to seem more sellable.

A car’s mileage can tell you a lot about its valuation and resale rate; a secondhand car usually clocks in at 12,000 to 15,000 miles. High mileage cars are usually sold cheaper compared to low mileage ones.

This is a helpful estimate especially if you’re assessing the car’s components too, since parts undergo routine replacement after a certain mileage. It also helps in knowing how to handle the secondhand car, or how near it is to its due maintenance, by approximating where it is in its lifetime.

4. Set your budget.

how to buy a used car

Don’t rush yourself into buying your own car, new or secondhand.

It’s not just about the cost of buying the car, but maintaining it as well. Consider regular maintenance and servicing, registration fees and taxes, and of course, gas. Check the car’s model year to estimate its depreciation value and assess its condition.

Then, with your monthly income and expenditures in mind, gauge if you can pay for it upfront or if you should get a lease. Whatever you arrive at, it’s generally good practice to spend no more than ten percent of your monthly salary, or to stretch payment terms to no more than four years.

5. Do a deep inspection.

buying a used car checklist

Taking a whole day to inspect the car is worth the trouble over finding out about an issue later on.

It goes without saying that a thorough inspection is imperative when purchasing a secondhand car. Schedule a well-timed appointment, meaning it has to be in broad daylight, under good weather, and in dispensable clothes so that you can do the dirty work of inspecting yourself.

Also, check for a buyer’s guide on your chosen vehicle too. This usually indicates any warranty that you are entitled to, or the proportion of repairs that the dealer has done on the vehicle. If there’s none, then you will have to answer to anything that happens post-purchase.

6. Take a trusted technician with you.

buy used cars

Some dealers already provide the service, but it’s good to seek help from outside shops too.

If that sounds too much of a hassle, a certified – or even just a trusted – technician or mechanic for inspection works too. Bring the car to an auto shop or invite your expert guy to get the job done for you.

Depending on the extent of the professional inspection, this might set you back some bucks though. It’s usually an extensive, hundred-point examination which assesses what parts work and what don’t, conditions of crucial components like brake pads, tread wear, frame damage, functioning lights, and past exposure to flood or fire, among many others.

7. Do some research on your dealer.

used cars

Building a bond with the seller might even get you more deals down the road.

Just as important as the vehicle you’re inspecting is the dealer you’re trying to buy it from. If they are unable to provide basic identification or are too wayward in answering your questions, they are probably what most regulators call “curbsiders,” or fraudulent dealers who buy and sell cars without registering them under their name.

Make sure that they are also able to provide the car’s Certificate of Vehicle Registration and official receipt of registration, as well as an Anti-Carnapping Clearance Form issues by the Land Transportation Office. Finally, ask about the vehicle’s history of previous owners to get a better perception as to what it has gone through.

Interested in anything automotive? Check out Yoorekka for more articles on cars!

8. Take your car on a test drive.

car shopping

Test driving the car also gives you an idea on its fuel consumption.

The header says “drive,” but you will have to test the vehicle out for more than that. Aside from handling and shifting, you will also have to inspect how other features work while you steer your secondhand car. Are the upholstery, mirrors, lights, parking sensors, power train, air-conditioning, sound system, pedals, and other peripherals working at will?

Try as much as possible to drive it through different terrains and test its turning radius on multiple bends. It also helps to have a professional on the passenger’s seat with you to listen to any suspicious sounds from under the hood.

9. Negotiate the price.

second hand cars

Never feel guilty about getting your preferred rates across.

You’re nearly done with the deal, but you might still curb your costs if you negotiate the price of your chosen vehicle. Dealers might only consider the depreciation value when placing the price tag on the unit, but there are other factors that can influence the fluctuating costs of a secondhand car. Wear and tear, existing warranties, taxes and paperwork costs, among many others affect these too.

If you have your range, or if competitors sell the same make and model, you might want to check their prices too, to leverage your negotiations and get the lowest rate.

10. Prepare the paperwork needed.

how to buy a used car

Seek the help of the nearest LTO local satellite offices if you need to.

Shaking on it doesn’t signal the end of your buying process; paperwork is a natural part of acquiring your new car, secondhand or not. Secure your original certificate of registration, official receipt, transfer of title, motor vehicle clearance, absolute deed of sale, and if it already has a LTO-issued plate, make sure you get hold of that as well.

Also, if the car qualifies for insurance and warranties, you have to have the corresponding endorsements and documents for those too. Have the car’s inspection results and maintenance records within reach as well; you won’t know when you might need them.

Owning a secondhand car might set you back some peace of mind, but out on the road, performance always trumps price!
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About Viktor Austria
Viktor would love to receive an extra hour a day as a Christmas gift. That way, he won’t have to struggle over splitting his 24 hours among making brand copies and campaigns, writing children’s stories, going to the gym, commuting around Taguig, and feeding his two overweight cats. He hates the hustle culture, that’s why he’s thankful for friends who have time to spare on weekends, preferably over spicy ramen and cold bottles of beer.
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Disclaimer: All articles in the Consumers Magazine of Yoorekka are for general information and entertainment purposes only. Although careful research has been made in writing them, Yoorekka does not make any warranty about the completeness and accuracy of all information presented in our articles. Our content is not intended to be used in place of legal, medical, or any professional advice.
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