Cheap used cars can be found anywhere and are not too difficult to come by. Every town has its fair share of used car lots; some with great deals, some not so much. It just takes a bit of effort, searching, and certain expectations. Here are 5 tips for finding and buying them.
1. Be Realistic – Cars can be had for as little as $500 to $1000 in almost all areas, but don’t expect to find the most amazing vehicle you’ve ever owned for this price. You won’t find a person with a mint condition current model year Corvette for sale for $1000 ever, so don’t even look. Most of these vehicles will be ten or more years old, and will probably have cosmetic issues. Choose a mechanically sound car over a car with new paint and engine problems. Fulfill your needs before your wants.
2. Exhaust Your Shopping Resources – Never limit your shopping to just one dealership or person. Check your local newspapers for cars, because they often have low classified rates, that appeal to sellers of cheap cars. Look for trader publications in your area at your local chamber of commerce, this may be an unexpected way to walk away with a local car for a low price. Also, never forget the Internet. Craigslist, eBay, or other online classified sections will have plenty of cars to choose from.
3. Always Ask for a Test Drive – These can make or break a car purchase, but every seller should oblige easily enough. Never buy a car without driving it first. A simple run around town, with maybe a county highway thrown in, will tell you a lot about how a car feels at speed, at idle, and during stop-and-go traffic. The car should feel solid while it is being driven. Not brand new, but solid and reliable. Check that all features work (lights, wipers, turn signals, radio, A/C, etc.) so that you won’t have to deal with potential tickets for these type of things.
4. Pay to Have the Car Inspected – If you find a car you like, spend the extra money to have it inspected by a qualified mechanic. This low-cost service can tell you about more serious issues the car has, or may have had in the past, such as engine problems and structural or frame damage from accidents. An inspection will also let you know about what problems are looming in the car’s future, so you can gauge what you will have to put into this car to keep it roadworthy for the future. If the owner doesn’t consent to an inspection, walk away from the deal. It will cost them more than it will cost you.
5. Know How to Haggle – Whether you buy a car from a dealership or a private party, the price on the window is often not what you pay. Often times you can take advantage of your haggling skills when dealing with individuals more easily, because the cars may be taking up space, or the person may need extra money. It’s a winning proposition for both parties, and it never hurts anyone to save a couple hundred dollars or so when making a big purchase. Don’t expect to get half off of everything you see, just go in and see if the seller will be flexible — it could be worth it in the end.Being armed with these tips can help you land one of the best cheap used cars you’ve ever owned. Do the research and take your time to find the vehicle that’s best for you.