Shopping around for used cars can be hard, especially if you don’t know anything about cars aside from driving it to the nearest automotive shop. Buying used cars is not like buying brand new cars, because the quality of used cars depends mostly on how well the previous owner maintained it, and for what it was used for.
In Austin, it is easy to go to a used car dealer. There are about 300 car dealers in Austin alone, so you have got a lot to choose from. If you do go to a used car dealer, choosing the right car can be easier if you do your research first. Find out if there have been any complaints against a particular dealer. You can go online to find customer reviews, or check with the Better Business Bureau. But even if you find a reputable used car dealer, you should still know how to assess a car’s value and capabilities.
If you have a particular make and model in mind, go online first and see what the going rate is for that particular car so you have an idea of what price you may have to pay. If you don’t have anything in mind, check out what’s available in the lot and do the same thing for any car you might like.
When you do find a car you think you like, you’ll also want to investigate its:
- Body – look for dents, scratches, loose parts
- Suspension – test a car’s suspension by applying pressure on the bumper and fender and listening to the sounds they may make. Any clacking or banging sounds may indicate a problem with the suspension.
- Brakes – check how far down the pedal will go; it shouldn’t go further than halfway. If it does, you may have to get it repaired.
- Interior – A worn interior might mean that the car’s mileage is high. So if the odometer says 60,000 but the carpet is worn ragged, it could be more like 160,000.
- Engine – check under the hood; if the engine is greasy, it might be a sign of a leak. But even if it looks clean, it’s no assurance the engine is sound. You may still need to bring it to a mechanic to get an independent assessment.
These are just some of the factors you need to consider before committing to buying a used car. The best thing for you to do is to get the dealer of the used car to give you a written inspection and repair estimate that you can use in case the car is in worse shape than you believed.