This is a sponsored post and I have been compensated. However, all opinions are 100% mine. Four years ago the motor died on our beloved family car. We loved that car! We named it Penelope. We did not want to face buying another car. But, as a family who shares one vehicle, we couldn’t afford to wait on purchasing our next familymobile. So we were off to navigate the murky waters of used car buying. Oh boy!
We had no idea where to begin when it came to how to buy the perfect used car for your family. We had bought Penelope from a neighbor. We had not bought a used car in YEARS! Like decades. But from there…we had no idea what to do. It took us four months to find a car. It was a huge headache. Let me save you the hassle with these tips for how to buy the perfect used car for your family:
- Set A Budget: Call your bank or finance company and find out how much you qualify for. Remember the better your credit, the better the interest rate. This does not mean you cannot get a car, it just means you may pay more. Once you set your budget, decide what you can afford to pay per month. We asked our bank to help us with this. DO NOT WAVER from these numbers. This is dangerous. Trust me. Been there, done that! Think about if you want to lease the car or finance it. This may also depend on your credit.
- Decide On What You Want: We knew we wanted a sedan with decent trunk space. We did not want a car older than three years with more than 50K miles on it. We were flexible on the color of the exterior and interior. We had to have air conditioning. If we could get power windows and other extras…well, that was our cherry on top! DO some research on what cars are available in your price range. We zeroed in on a Ford Focus. It had what we wanted and was in our price range.
- Decide Where To Look For A Car: Gone are the days when you had to drive to a million dealerships to look for a car. Or worse, look in the paper and go blindly to see an owner you don’t know to buy a car you know nothing about. Talk about scary! Instead, I highly recommend using Cars.com. Not only can you search for new and used cars, but they offer a ton of other services as well.
- What About Added Warranties? This is a great question. My husband sold cars for a while, so he knew about this area. Most extended warranties cover the period of time from when the factory warranty runs out. Many extended warranties do not cover the parts of the car that are likely to break. Some have mileage limitations and may not transfer to a new owner. When we bought our car, we opted for the Gap insurance. This is the difference between the actual cash value of a vehicle and the balance still owed on the financing. It was only a few dollars extra a month. When we totaled our car a year after we bought it, our GAP insurance was a lifesaver. If we didn’t have it, we would have been upside down in our car.
- Get A Vehicle History Report! This report will tell you about the major activity this car has been through. It can tell you the number of previous owners, accident information, and verification of recent mileage. It will also tell you if the vehicle has a “branded” title. This means the insurance company declared the car a total loss. In turn, the car is given a salvage title because of an accident, flood damage or other catastrophic event. You can get this online or from a mobile app.
- Test Drive The Car: I know this will sound weird, but our car spoke to me! We had test driven 2-3 cars and none of them felt right. Then I walked past our current car and I stopped. Something made me go back to it. We asked the salesman to let us drive it and we LOVED it. Also, be sure to have the car checked out by an independent party.
I love how easy it is to use Cars.com! It is super user friendly, so even my tech challenged husband was able to navigate it! You just click on “Cars for Sale” and input your criteria. You can search by make, year, price, location and more. We did a search for Ford Focus SE models within 30 miles that were less than $15K and had less than 50K miles. We found several cars in our area to choose from. Some were from a dealership and some were from individual owners.
You will get so much guidance from Cars.com. They have a section with news and tips for buying a car, including help for first time car buyers. They can also help you sell your car, either on your own or to a dealer. They even will help you find the value of your car! They also have advice on service and repairs, including DIY repairs, search recalls or find a service center. If you have car questions, I am pretty sure Cars.com has the answer! And the best part is it is free! Yay! Be sure to follow Cars.com on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Have you ever bought a new or used car? I would love to hear about your experience and how Cars.com could have made it easier!