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A Guide to Buying Used Cars

Shopping for used cars? Requesting used car quotes? Ready to make a purchase? Before you sign the bottom line, read through this guide to buying used cars, which can help you research, locate, and price any number of models. Buying used cars is a tricky process. As a consumer, you are not only searching for the best quotes, but you are also trying to weed out models with mechanical and structural problems. Malfunctioning models tend to have "bargain" prices and can be, if you're not careful, difficult to avoid.

But, by utilizing the following guide to buying used cars, you can make yourself a little wiser and maybe save a little money in the process. If you're not careful, the model you are interested in could have a laundry list of problems. Some of which are not easily repaired. Buying used cars means taking the time to carefully inspect your purchase. Remember, it is not new. It's been used, and possibly abused.

The following are some common problems: ? Prior accidents, possibly salvaged ? Flood damage ? Unsuited Vehicle Identification Numbers ? Odometer rollback ? Missing airbags ? Auctioned ? Smog test failure ? Previously Stolen However, with the proper precaution, the buying process can be less risky: ? Try to purchase a "Certified" model - one that shows proof of a thorough 100-point inspection and already includes an extended warranty. ? Research the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) and Vehicle History Report. ? Schedule a qualified mechanical inspection to thoroughly inspect it inside and out. ? Consider purchasing an extended auto warranty, especially if it's five years older or more. ? Be sure to take a test drive.

Check for problems with the handling, engine, transmission, passenger controls, etc. Taking these precautions when buying used cars will not only weed out the lemons, it will allow you to find the best of the bunch. If you find a credible model, the upside is tremendous. First, you're not paying a large MSRP, like you would for a new car. So, if you purchase a used car in good condition for a reasonable price, you'll get a better value.

Second, the depreciation is lessened. In other words, instead of losing immense value in the first few years, a used car's value is maintained. If you're smart about your purchase, you'll get more "drive" for less money. The following is a complete breakdown for the process of buying used cars, taking you from beginning to end. In just 10 steps, you can save time, money, and headaches.

Used Car Buying Advice, Step One - Research prices Search for used cars to determine what average prices are. Be sure to do thorough research, so that you're paying a fair price for the make and model you choose. Used Car Buying Advice, Step Two - Get multiple used car quotes After figuring out a fair price, request as many quotes as possible, on as many models that come close to fitting your description.

Request prices with all applicable taxes and charges included in those used car quotes. Used Car Buying Advice, Step Three - Get your credit report Your credit score is what is used to determine the APR you'll pay on your loan. You should get a copy so you know the kind of rate you deserve and to ensure there are no errors.

Used Car Buying Advice, Step Four - Get loan rate quotes With your FICO credit score prepared, you should apply to online lenders for the best loan rates. Your bank, other banks, other lenders, the dealership, and even your family. Shopping around for financing can save you thousands over the life of your loan. Used Car Buying Advice, Step Five - Research insurance companies You should research insurance companies thoroughly as well.

Some specialize in offering plans for used cars and/or less expensive plans for drivers with good driving records. Used Car Buying Advice, Step Six - Get insurance rate quotes Request quotes from the preferred companies you found, and much like the search for auto loan rate quotes, pick the plan that offers the best protection for the most reasonable price. Used Car Buying Advice, Step Seven - Determine trade-in value Use Kelly Blue Book to estimate your current car's value if you're thinking about trading it in to help pay for the used car. The trade-in value will be affected by the used car's price. Used Car Buying Advice, Step Eight - Vehicle History Once you've narrowed down potential purchases, you'll need specifics about each of those used cars.

Run vehicle history checks with the VINs (Vehicle Identification Number). Used Car Buying Advice, Step Nine - Get an extended auto warranty It is important to purchase an extended warranty to cover any surprise repairs (unless the car is certified, which means the original warranty is still valid). It is a smart investment that may save you thousands in the long run. Used Car Buying Advice, Step Ten - Negotiating your purchase Contact your preferred sellers to see if they'll beat the lowest of the used car quotes. Many will compete because they want your business. If you can do this online, it may make the process quick and hassle-free.

Colin Ayres is a writer for Harbor Credit. He began his career shortly after graduating from Yale University, where he soon realized that Liberal Arts and copywriting have a lot in common. To read more, visit

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