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How to Buy a Used Car or Truck

Step 1: Choose the vehicle that you want.

Develop a list of possible candidates for your next vehicle and do some research in consumer magazines and on-line at sites like about their the cost, reliability, safety ratings, gas mileage and features to help you choose the right one for you.

Step 2: Research how much you should pay.

Look up what the vehicle that you are interested in is currently worth. The "True Market Value (TMV)" will give you a good idea of how much you should pay for it in your area right now. You can look up your vehicle's TMV by visiting the "Used Vehicle Appraiser" at It's also not a bad idea to look for similar vehicles in classified ads in your local newspaper or on-line to get a feel for what the car or truck that you want it worth.

Step 3: If financing, get pre-approved.

If you are not paying cash for your new vehicle, you are going to have to finance it. Make sure to get pre-approved to finance the car or truck that you want prior to doing any shopping. If you end up purchasing from a dealer your pre-approved rate will give you an idea of what sort of interest rate to expect and it will often motivate dealers to beat the rate that you have in hand. If you end up purchasing from a private party, you're going to need to secure financing on your own anyhow.

Step 4: Find the car or truck that you want.

Now that you know what you want, how much it should cost, and have arranged to pay for it, it's time to physically find your next vehicle. You can do so by visiting dealers, visiting used car superstores, looking for private party classified ads both in your local paper and on line at sites like and eBay Motors, and even by visiting rental car companies.

Step 5: Inspect the vehicle that you're interested in.

Once you have found a vehicle that you are interested, inspect it. It never hurts to make up a checklist of items that you want to take a close look at before you go.

Step 6: Test drive the vehicle.

It goes without saying that one should always test drive any used vehicle that they are considering purchasing. When you do so, make sure to take the car or truck that you are considering getting out in various conditions like on hills, on highways, and in stop-and-go traffic.

Step 7: Have the car inspected by a mechanic you hire.

You may want to consider having a mechanic that you choose check out the vehicle that you are interested in. You can find one in the Yellow Pages or by asking friends and relatives. If purchasing you are from a dealer and they won't let you take the car or truck off the lot, there are mobile inspection services out there that you can use. It is very important that you are absolutely positive that you are comfortable with your deal, because contrary to popular belief there is no three day return period period on used vehicles. Once you have paid for and driven off in your car or truck, it's yours to keep.

Step 8: Run a CarFax report on any vehicle that you are interested in.

It is always a good idea to run a CarFax Vehicle History report on any used car or truck that you are considering purchasing. Doing so may point out a car or truck that has had past problems, like been in a flood, had the odometer rolled back, or been in a severe accident. If you plan on shopping around at a number of places for your vehicle, you can sign up on-line at, to get Unlimited CarFax reports on vehicles for a specific period of time.

Step 9: Ask about any remaining warranty.

Make sure to find out if the vehicle that you want has any remaining original warranty, a Certified Pre-Owned warranty, comes with an extended warranty, or in the case of many private party sales is being sold as-is.

Step 10: Ask for the maintenance records.

It's also always a good idea to ask the selling party for the vehicle's maintenance records.

Step 11: Negotiate a selling price that you are comfortable with.

Finally, once you have decided that you want a car or truck you need to negotiate a selling price on it that you are comfortable with. Use the research that you did in Step 2 as a baseline for how much you are willing to pay. Start lower than you are willing to go, but don't be unreasonable. If are unable to negotiate a price that you are comfortable with, just walk away. It will show the party that you are dealing with that you are serious about letting the deal fall apart if your price isn't met. There are tons of used vehicles out there.

Prices Paid: Buying & Leasing Experiences Forum


  • rmontellarmontella Posts: 2
    It is known that a used car purchase always involves some kind of risk. Risk involves the possibility of spending money on repairs that are more expensive than the car value. Therefore you should understand that used car purchases will be more effective the more seriously you treat this process.
    Everyone would like to get a cheap used car at a good condition, but before doing so there are many things to consider.
    • Body of car should be healthy. Open the doors of hood and trunk and checking weld effects ( If this were so the car accidents from forward or backward). Note the car body rust and corrosion; you can moving a magnet on car body.

    • Open and closing the doors of side, trunk and hood. Seeing that is easily or not. Move volar of the car and make sure the floor does not rust.

    • When taking the used car on a test drive, remember to take it on varied terrains, be aware of unusual noises and ease of steering.

    • Looking to Number of Km system and attention number of miles and the car appeared to match or not. So appearance of cars and Km system should match others.

    • Depending on your lifestyle and the likely changes that it would undergo in the time that you would keep the used car, decide the brand that you would want to purchase. Make sure that it is within your affordability range.

    • Pay attention to the car electrical system. Lights, Horn, sprinkler, wipers, audio systems and other things that have been install on the machine should works true.

    • Turn on the engine, let a few minutes to warm slowly because some people thick oil spilled into the engine and gearbox to prevent dissonant voice of the engine. Also, if the blue smoke out of exhaust, it show the engine requires repair.

    • Checking the oil measuring sticks, if you see the grayish spots, that is a sign of engine failure.

    • Remove the cap of Carter, if was out of smoke or steam from engine indicator that need to fix.

    • Try the brakes. If you get a brake and voice was heard of it, need to fix the brake system.

    • Listen the car's noise, if it is the front wheels when the wrapping was loud, that shows the steering system has a problem.

    • Entering vertical pressure in front and back of the car. In Normal mode, machine should return to its original shape, if the car started to shake, it is indicate that the car needs repair.

    • Keep in mind the cost that you can afford, how long you would be keeping the vehicle and the kind of usage that it would have.

    • How long has the car been used is another very important factor. In such cases, it is often wise to buy a relatively new smaller car than a big care which has been used for a long time. Opt for cars that have been used by the owners themselves than those which have been driven by chauffeurs

    • Take time before you decide on buying the car. Don't make hasty decisions. Borrow the car to take it on a test drive and as your mechanic to check for the car's parts especially the bottom.

    The above points are just a quick check on the deal. Lot more research needs to be done as the investment is not small here.
    I have been using goverment and police car auctions for more than 7 years. This is my business. I buy cars at a very low price and resell them later. At the website below you can read a review of the auction which provides me with great car delas every month.
  • rmontellarmontella Posts: 2
    very good , thnx
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