Used Car Buying Tips: How to Know You’re Not Buying a Clunker

Buying a car is a big purchase. It’s one you’ll live with for years to come, so you want to be sure you make the best choice. So how do you buy a used car with confidence that you’re not investing in a clunker? Here are a few used car buying tips to help you make the best choice for your family’s next vehicle.

Set Your Budget

If you’re buying a used car, chances are you’re already getting a great price on the vehicle. Still, used cars come in a wide price range so knowing your budget before you start looking is crucial.

As a general rule, you do not want your monthly car payment to be more than 20%. If you’re worried about temptation during the buying process, trying using the calculator. This will help you determine the best price range for your budget. The website will also show you a few cars that you might want to consider buying within that price range.

Go Shopping

With your budget and a few car models in mind, you’re ready to go shopping. There are two ways you can search for used cars – online and in-person. Both options have their pros and cons.

Visiting a used car lot can be unnerving for some people. The pressure from the sales team might make you feel overwhelmed and uncomfortable. However, it’s nice to have these people at your disposal to answer questions and give you guidance as you explore your options.

Online sales are nice because you can shop from the comfort of your own home. Visiting websites such as or will show you the cars available in your area. Then, it’s up to you whether you want to schedule a test drive or not.

Do Your Research Online

The Internet is full of information about the car you’re thinking of buying. Here are a few websites you might want to visit before signing on the dotted line:

  • – Get the facts about the specific car you’re interested in buying.
  • Kelly Blue Book – Answer a few questions to find out if you’re getting the best price for the car you’re interested in buying.
  • Consumer Reports – Learn about common problems in the car model you’re considering, safety features, and more.

Spending some time researching your used car will help you get a better understanding of what you’re buying. This will also help you know what to look for when you take the car on a test drive.

Take the Car for a Spin

The best way to know if the car is the right choice for you is to take it for a test spin. Test driving a car is crucial. It helps you know if the car has all the creature comforts you’re looking for, while giving you the chance to feel the rev of the engine to see if everything is running smoothly.

Have the Car Inspected

No matter how smooth the test drive felt, there might be underlying issues awaiting you after your purchase. Those issues could cost you thousands of dollars shortly after you buy the car.

Avoid those by having a pre-purchase inspection done on the vehicle. Don’t let the seller choose the mechanic for you, unless you trust their choice in car shops. Rita Ranch Automotive & Tire offers pre-purchase inspections for your peace of mind when car buying.

Private sellers usually don’t have a problem with this step in the buying process. Some dealers might prefer that you use their own on-site mechanics for the pre-purchase inspection.

Get the Keys

Once you’ve done your research, taken the car for a test drive, and had it inspected by a local mechanic, you’re ready to buy! The buying process varies depending on where you’re making the purchase.

Dealers will walk you through the process.

When buying from a private seller, make sure you have a cashiers check on hand. Before you hand over the payment, make sure you have the title or pink slip in hand with the seller having signed it over to you.

When you’re finished, you’re ready to enjoy your new (to you) car!

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