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Know your budget
If you're getting loan financing, get that approved first. Its easy to say you want to buy a new car, but before you get your heart set on a car you can't afford, know how much you are actually able to spend. This includes what you will pay for the car up front, ongoing costs like fuel and loan payments if any, costs of regular servicing, and insurance. It's easy to forget about operational costs but these are often very significant and should always be considered.
Do your research
Have an idea of what brands, models and years you are looking for. Some models have known issues that can be costly to repair if the current owner has not already done so. Think of resale value when considering what to buy especially if you don't plan to keep the car for long.
Visit dealers and look at similar models being sold by private sellers. Compare prices and availability of features you may like (eg car colour, body kit, rims). Avoid buying the first vehicle you see and like; this often leads to buyers remorse when you find out there was a better deal eslewhere.
Know what to look for
When viewing a vehicle, there are a few things you should check for which will give you clues to its true condition. Unevenly worn tires are signs of issues with the cars alignment. Oil spots on the ground where it is parked may be a sign of trouble. Open and shut all doors, the bonnet/hood and the trunk. Uneven gaps in body panels, paint overspray, variations in paint colour and missing underguards can be signs of a bad accident.
Always take a test drive
New tires and shiny paint may distract you from a cars true condition. Always arrange a test drive to see how the vehicle operates on the road. Does the transmission change smoothly? Does the car accelerate smoothly without missing or shuddering? Any vibration in the steering? Does it brake without pulling to one side? How does it corner? IMPORTANT : Check under the hood AFTER the test drive to see if there are leaking fluids or odd smells.
Carry your mechanic
Unless you are very car savvy, your mechanic will often be able to advise you of issues you may not see. He will likely check for wear on the engines belts, condition on the transmission fluid and engine oil, and the vehicles engine and transmission mounts. This especially important when dealing with a private seller, but also consider this for dealers selling trade ins with no warranties.
Feel free to negotiate
Unless a vehicle is particularly unique, the seller should be willing to negotiate, especially if it priced at the higher end of market value. Any shortcomings that you have noticed during your and your mechanic's inspection can work to you advantage when negotiating price. Findng out how long the vehicle has been for sale and convincing a seller that you are a serious buyer will add to your negotiating power.
After the sale
Be sure to get all copies of the car keys, wheel locks, all alarm remotes, any owners manuals, all service records if any, along with any recent receipts/warranties for new tyres, batteries or other electrical or mechanical parts.
Help us help you (and others)
If you have any other tips you would like to share with other users of our site, please contact us at [email protected]m with these.
Always meet prospective buyers during the day time in a safe, public, neutral place. Use a police station if convenient. Have a friend with you who can raise an alarm should anything begin to go wrong. Avoid test drives with a lot of people and test drives in unfamiliar areas.
Confirm buyers identity
Be particularly wary of potential buyers who are willing to purchase your vehicle without seeing it or driving it. Always attempt to verify a potential buyer's identity.
Secure payment before transferring the vehicle
Do not transfer the title for the vehicle you are selling until you have full payment in hand at the agreed price, or a verified letter of committment from the buyers financial institution.
Verify managers cheques
Verify authenticity of a managers cheque with the branch of the issuing bank. Even managers cheques can be returned for various reasons. If possible, have the buyer give you a managers cheque drawn on the bank you bank with.
Be wary of complicated payment arrangements
Be very cautious when a buyer wants to give you a cheque for more than the sale price and asks you to refund the difference.
Trust your gut.
Our instincts are there for a reason. If something about a transaction sends off warning bells in your head, sometimes its best to trust your instincts and avoid the transaction.
Help us help you (and others)
If you have any other tips you would like to share with other users of our site, please contact us at [email protected] with these.
We've helped lots of buyers get car loans through our financial partners, and we can help you too!
Simply use the loan calculator on the ad for the vehicle you're interested in buying, and if you like the terms shown, click the button below the ad to start your loan application.Ok, cool!
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