Smarter Car Shopping – How to Find the Best Deals on Pre-Owned Vehicles

Car buyers can make smarter purchases by getting pre-qualified for loans before visiting dealers and expanding their search beyond local dealerships. “Certified pre-owned” vehicles may offer greater savings as they have been thoroughly inspected, repaired as necessary and typically come with manufacturer-backed warranties.

Shopping customers must also have knowledge of both their dealer invoice and recent resale prices for models they want, in order to better bargain.

1. Know Your Budget

Before setting foot on a car lot, shoppers should understand their budget. Aiming to stick within this limit when dealing with salespeople.

Before visiting a dealership, a buyer should do their research by reading reviews and owner opinions of cars they’re interested in as well as consulting online pricing guides such as Kelley Blue Book or Edmunds as well as any manufacturer incentives or rebates that may be available.

Prequalifying for an auto loan can also help ensure you stay within budget when negotiating prices. Many lenders allow shoppers to become preapproved without impacting their credit score, providing an insight into your buying budget and interest rate should financing be required – giving you more leverage with dealers when discussing financing terms.

2. Do Your Research

Searching for a vehicle can feel like searching for a needle in a haystack – especially when shopping for used.

As an efficient way of narrowing and speeding up your search, using online tools to research vehicles and pricing can save time. Edmunds Inventory Tool enables users to enter make and model of any car to obtain recent resale prices as well as any available incentives.

Additionally, reading professional reviews and owners’ forums to research which cars meet your requirements can give you leverage when bargaining prices with dealers. Certified pre-owned (CPO) vehicles that have been thoroughly inspected, reconditioned and may come with manufacturer warranties may provide extra value over traditional used vehicles due to depreciation issues.

3. Test-Drive

Though you might have read or seen enough to make an educated guess about whether a used car will meet your comfort requirements, only being inside it can truly tell. Much like trying on shoes – they look amazing online or from reviews but until you experience them yourself you won’t know if they fit properly or not.

On a test drive, use all your senses except taste (never eating anything while driving, coronavirus pandemic or no). Take your time and be thorough – check the seat height so pedals are comfortably reached by you, listen for any warning lights to illuminate, smell for gasoline or exhaust odors and ensure everything works as advertised.

On your test drives, it may also be beneficial to bring along someone close who can offer impartial opinions and help prevent you from making bad decisions. This is particularly helpful during the buying process where many dealers may apply pressure.

4. Negotiate

Finding great pre-owned vehicle deals requires doing your research. That means reading articles about each model you’re considering, talking with people who own them and researching their sale prices locally.

Know the prices of similar vehicles being sold so you have an accurate assessment of how much your desired car is worth – this gives you more bargaining power when dealing with dealers!

Negotiate the price of add-ons such as tire protection plans, anti-theft protection and infotainment upgrades as soon as you’re making an offer on a vehicle. These items can significantly raise its total price; to ensure you get a good deal on these extras avoid agreeing too quickly by asking for a lower price; setting an out-the-door price first will make negotiating them simpler.

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