Complete Guide to Buying a Great Used Car

January 13th, 2019 by

2019 chevrolet malibu

Buying a used car can be a scary undertaking. There are so many unknowns in the equation and it’s difficult to know where to start or who to trust. Going in blind, willing to spend a few thousand bucks on the strength of somebody’s word can be terrifying. It’s important to do your homework when making a large purchase like this. Knowing a few basic tips can help make the entire experience a lot easier and give you some peace of mind.


The first step is to set your budget. There’s no sense looking around at cars and dreaming about the perfect ride before you know how much you can, or are willing, to spend on a vehicle. And remember to include factors like the cost of running the automobile (MPG), insurance, maintenance, etc. Those things can add up. Also, you should consider how you’re going to pay for the vehicle. Are you going to finance it? If so, you’ll need to calculate the monthly payment with the interest added. If you’re taking out a loan, can you do it on your own or do you need a cosigner? Or are you paying cash? All of these things need to be considered before talking to a dealership.

Consider Needs over Wants

Next, choose a vehicle based on your needs. If you’re a mom or dad with three kids that you’re hauling around to soccer games, t-ball, and ballet lessons, the two-seater is not your best option. Be realistic about what kind of vehicle you need. Are you into landscaping or home renovation? Then maybe a truck is the right choice. Single and ready to mingle? Go for the convertible!

Think About Reliability

Your next and probably most important step is to check the reliability of the model. Talk to people you know who have owned the same model, look it up online, check online resources like Carfax and Consumers’ Report. You want to make sure that you’re buying a car you can drive for a long time, so durability and reliability are key.

Understand the Value of the Vehicle You Want

So you’ve narrowed it down to a few models. You know what you want to spend on the vehicle. You’ve already done the hard part! You’ve got to do a little more legwork and compare prices. Look at the Kelley Blue Book value of the vehicle in your area. Check online sites like Craigslist just to get an idea of what your particular model is going for. Remember that you’re not locking into any of these dollar amounts, just trying to get an idea of what is the going rate. That way when you begin to negotiate you’ll have firm knowledge to back you up, and you’ll know if someone is trying to overcharge you.

Choose an Experienced, Authorized Dealership

It’s time to choose a used car dealership. You may have purchased from a dealership previously and had a great experience with the sales and service of your vehicle. If you’re new to an area, talk to friends, co-workers, and neighbors to see who they would recommend. You want to be able to establish an excellent working relationship with your dealership to ensure a smooth transaction, so find someone who has a good local reputation. Drive by the lot a few times. Are they busy? Do the salespeople look busy or are they standing around talking about the football game? Do they appear professional? Check out the model options on the lot. Are there plenty of options? Are the vehicles washed and clean or dusty and rusty? All of these things give you an indication of how professional a dealership is.

Once you’ve decided on a used car dealership in Oklahoma City, it’s time to forge that bond with them. They need you to buy a car and you need them to be reliable and honest. It should be a win-win situation. Ask to see several models so you can narrow down your selection. Once you’re down to a couple of options, ask to see the CarFax. Do not skip this step. This report will tell you how many people have previously owned the vehicle and whether it’s been involved in any accidents. A little fender bender is one thing, but if it needed a full re-haul after a wreck you may want to steer clear of it. If you find out the car was used as a rental you should know that it may have been treated roughly or may have a lot of wear and tear. If that’s okay with you, you may be able to use that information to negotiate a lower selling price.

If you have a trade-in, the dealership will want to evaluate it before they tell you what they’re willing to give you for it. Because you’ve done your homework, you already know the retail value of your trade-in. Remember that if you’re trading in a car, the dealership is going to need to make money off of it, and more importantly, they’re saving you the hassle of selling it yourself. Knowing that will make it easier when you have to take that hit. If you’d rather not accept their price you can always sell it yourself.

Zeck Chevrolet is a No-Haggle Dealership

Now you’re down to the last step. Negotiate the car price with your salesman. Because you’ve done the front work and you’ve established a good working relationship with your salesman by now, this should be relatively painless. Keep your budget in mind and don’t ever spend more than you’re comfortable with. You can offer a lower price than the sticker but bear in mind that dealerships are in business to make money, just like everyone else who has a job.

Modern dealerships like Zeck Chevrolet have a no-haggle policy, so the sticker price is the price you’ll pay. This greatly simplifies the process.

At the end of the day, you want to be able to drive off the lot as a happy, satisfied customer, and the dealership wants to sell you a car that you’re going to be happy with. After all, you’re their best source of advertising. If you’re satisfied and confident that you got a good deal, your word of mouth has more value than anything they could pay for.

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