Men and women purchase a preowned vehicle for a variety of reasons. Preowned vehicles are often a better bargain than a brand new car right off the lot, and a preowned vehicle will likely cost less to insure, making it an even bigger bargain. In addition, many manufacturers and dealers have recognized the growing appeal of preowned vehicles and, as a result, offer warranties, something that was unheard of as recently as a decade ago.

But buying a preowned vehicle is still a nerve-wracking process for some consumers, who no doubt recall the horror stories of yesteryear when previously owned vehicles were sold as-is and the risk of buying a lemon was enough to scare consumers away. That risk has dwindled considerably, but there are still some things prospective buyers can do to ensure the process of buying a preowned vehicle is less stressful and more likely to be a success.

* Research the vehicle you want to buy. The Internet has made it easier than ever before to conduct research regarding certain vehicles. In a relatively short period of time, consumers can learn about a vehicle’s standard features, safety records and warranty information, and may even find opinions about the vehicle online from past or current owners of the same model. Owner opinions might be especially valuable, as owners might shed light on any mechanical issues you might not be able to glean from other sources.

* Determine your price range. Settling on a price range is an important part of the process when buying a preowned vehicle. If you will be financing the vehicle, then you likely won’t save as much on insurance as if you buy the vehicle outright. That’s because lending institutions typically mandate that a vehicle be fully insured while it’s being financed. If your insurance is going to be as high as it would be to purchase a new vehicle, then you might want to make a larger down payment so your monthly payment is lower. A preowned vehicle is likely to need more immediate maintenance than a brand new car, so keep that in mind when figuring out a price range you can be comfortable with.

* Find a reputable seller. Working with a seller you’re comfortable with can make the process of buying a preowned vehicle a lot less stressful. Private sellers tend to sell preowned vehicles at the most reasonable prices, and buyers are often a little more at ease because they don’t feel as pressured with a private seller as they might at a dealership. However, dealerships might offer a greater sense of security, as their preowned vehicles are now typically certified and backed by warranties.

* Test drive the vehicle. It might seem simple, but consumers have the right to test drive a preowned vehicle just like they would a brand new car on the lot at a dealership. In fact, the test-drive is perhaps more important with a preowned vehicle than a new vehicle. A new vehicle will likely feel good no matter what on a test-drive, but test-driving a preowned vehicle may reveal certain issues. When test-driving, take the vehicle on a long enough ride to accelerate from a stop, get a feel for the vehicle’s visibility, braking, cornering, and ability to climb hills, and see how the vehicle drives on the highway. The ride should be long enough so you can get a true feel for how the vehicle drives, and you should pay attention to any noises along the way, such as noises coming from the engine or any creaks, rattling and squeaks that tend to be commonplace with older vehicles.

* Don’t be afraid to negotiate. Preowned vehicles may have a suggested price attached to them, but that price is entirely contingent on the condition of the vehicle and it’s certainly open to negotiation. This is true whether you are buying from a dealership or a private seller. If the seller refuses to negotiate, you can always walk away and continue your search.

Buying a preowned vehicle is a lot less stressful than in decades past, and buyers who do their homework can find the right deal if they stay patient.


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