Common Mistakes When Buying a Used Vehicle

Watch Out! One Bad Decision Could Cost You

Does anyone truly love shopping for a used car? We think not.

And that’s mostly because buying a car is expensive and not without risk. How do you know you’re getting a good deal? And how do you know the used vehicle you’re purchasing will be reliable?

No one can predict the future, but there are ways you can ensure visiting your local used car dealership isn’t a bad experience.

Mistake: You Didn’t Ask People for Their Opinions
The hive mind occasionally comes in handy. There’s a good chance someone you know has bought a used car in the last couple of years. If you want the most honest feedback on whether you should trust a car lot, ask someone who’s shopped there before.

Your friends, family, coworkers, and neighbors likely have some good suggestions, both of used car dealerships you should visit, and some you should avoid. Don’t make the mistake of not asking for people’s input. Their advice can be very helpful when shopping for a used car.

Mistake: You Didn’t Read Their Online Reviews
Check Google Reviews of every dealership you’re planning to visit – or at least considering. These are usually reviews written by previous customers who interacted with the dealership in some capacity.

But simply reading reviews isn’t always enough. You should also evaluate their truthfulness. There isn’t really a scientific way to do this, but you should trust your gut.

If reviews seem formulaic, repeat the same type of information, or are written in the same tone of voice, they may not be real. You also can discount certain reviews that sound overly dramatic or make shocking statements that seem unbelievable.

And be sure to read review responses made by the dealership themselves. How do they address customer concerns? Are they polite and truly interested in helping – the kind of place you want to visit? Or are they argumentative?

If you don’t check these reviews, you’re missing out on a chance to determine whether a dealership is one you should visit, and you could end up wasting your time there if their customer service is truly subpar.

Mistake: You Overpay Because You Don’t Know The Fair Price
The Internet is a treasure trove of information on used cars, including how much they’re worth. Valuation services like Kelley Blue Book make it easy to find out a fair asking price for a vehicle.

Reputable car dealerships don’t overcharge you for a used car, nor will they make you haggle to get a fair price. To prevent this, you need to make sure you know exactly how much the car you want is worth – and only visit dealerships that are already asking fair prices for them.

When comparing values, be sure you’re looking at vehicles with all the same trim levels, features, and upgrades. Even paint color can play a factor in car value!

Mistake: You Didn’t Get a Used Vehicle History Report
Every reputable car dealership is happy to show you a copy of a vehicle’s history report, sometimes called a CarFax. These reports show you how many owners a vehicle has had, whether it’s been in a wreck or had major repairs, and more. Sometimes they’ll even show you when and where the vehicle had maintenance performed, such as oil changes and tire rotations.

If the car dealership you visit doesn’t have vehicle history reports or balks when you ask to see one, then you should shop elsewhere. Not seeing a vehicle history report means you don’t have enough information to know that the vehicle you’re considering is safe and free of mechanical issues.

Mistake: You Let The Salesperson Pressure You
Most car dealerships pay their sales team a flat salary, plus commission. This commission comes in the form of extra money in their paycheck for every vehicle they sell. Generally, the more expensive the vehicle, the bigger the commission. This can sometimes lead to a salesperson pressuring you to buy a used car you can’t afford.

And if you cave to that pressure, you’re stuck with a big car payment for the next two to six years, depending on the loan term you agreed to. That’s a mistake that you’ll relive for a long time.

If you feel like a salesperson is trying to force you into a car you don’t love, or if you’re simply uncomfortable, it’s within your rights to leave and take your business elsewhere.

Advice: Take-Along Someone You Trust
When you go car shopping, take along someone you can trust to help you avoid these pitfalls. Your best friend, your significant other, or a trusted family member can help you watch out for sneaky sales tactics and remind you of questions you should ask at the dealership.