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How to Buy Used Vehicles

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When you’re in the market for a new car, truck, SUV, motorcycle, or other vehicle, then you have some big decisions to make. One of the most basic is whether or not your next vehicle should be brand new, or just new to you.

There are different schools of thoughts on this subject, but the used vehicle fans have some excellent points. Given how much new vehicles depreciate the moment that their new owners drive them off of the dealership’s lot, the idea of getting a relatively new and completely reliable used car or motorcycle can be very appealing from a financial perspective.

So how can you buy a used vehicle in a sensible way? How can you make sure that you’re getting the right vehicle for you, and at the right price? Here’s what you need to know and what you need to do.

Know your budget and stick to it

Whether you’re buying a vehicle used or buying one new, one thing remains vitally important: your budget.

It’s okay to take out a loan to buy a vehicle, but be smart about how much you borrow and how much you spend on your vehicle. And remember that your total spending includes not just the purchase price of the vehicle, but taxes, loan interest, and maintenance and repair costs as well.

Sit down and carve out a budget carefully. Make sure that you’ll have an easy time making your payments and keeping your vehicle in tip-top shape. And when you’re shopping, stick to your budget. Resist the temptation to exceed it “just a little bit” when unexpected costs are tacked on to the sale. You need to know when to walk away.

Do your research

The more you know, the better a shopper you’ll be. With all of the resources available online these days, there’s no reason not to be armed to the teeth with knowledge when you begin shopping.

Getting a totally reliable used vehicle is easier said than done. Even used vehicles from more recent model years can be in rough shape if their prior owners weren’t careful with them.

Depreciation isn’t something that happens at an entirely fixed rate: if your next vehicle’s prior owner loved to accelerate quickly, brake hard, and take sharp turns, then your vehicle is going to be less reliable and less valuable than it otherwise might be. And if the vehicle has been in a collision, this is even more true.

So brush up on brands, prices, and depreciation rates. Check out online vehicle history reports to figure out if anything unsavory has happened to a given vehicle in the past. Research your budget and your financing options, too, of course.

Shop online

When you look for a used vehicle, your options will be limited to what others are selling. But That doesn’t mean that you have to be limited to what’s available at your local dealership. On the contrary, you can and should expand your search to nearby areas — or even to far-flung ones — by using online marketplaces.

Plus, online options give you more than just buy-it-now functionality. You may be able to save even more when you shop online on a marketplace that offers motorcycle and auto auctions.

Inspect the vehicle carefully

From motorcycle handlebars to truck tailgates, every single part of your next vehicle should be in great shape. If anything isn’t, then you need to know the price of a replacement or a repair — and you need to factor that into your budget.

So be very careful as you evaluate your used vehicle. Use information online or, better yet, take the vehicle for a test drive. If you can, have a trusted mechanic inspect it on your behalf — this step is especially important if you’re buying your used vehicle from an individual seller.

If you do your research and check carefully, you can be more confident in what you’re buying. And if you get the right used vehicle, you’ll get a great value on a car, truck, SUV, motorcycle, or other vehicle that will last you for years and years.

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