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All You Need To Know About Buying A Used Car

Follow these 9 steps below for a smoother ride!

Very few purchases are more associated with slimy salesmen and oblivious buyers than used car sales. It’s almost a cliché: The used-car dealer’s eyes glitter with dollar signs as he pats the clueless buyer on the back and watches him drive off the lot with a total lemon.

But buying a previously owned vehicle can also be a great way to save big on one of your most valuable possessions.

If you’re shopping for an amazing deal on wheels during the October car-shopping season, you want to be that buyer who walks home thrilled with their new car.

Follow these 9 steps below for a smoother ride!

Step 1: Work out a budget

How are you paying for your new set of wheels?

If you’re paying with cash, your purchase will be fairly simple. You already have your spending cap and you know what you can afford. Just make sure not to spend it all on the car or you won’t be able to cover your vehicle’s insurance, registration, repairs and future maintenance.

If you’re taking out an auto loan, your lender will determine how much car you can afford. Research a few lenders before making a decision and only take the car dealer’s financing if it beats any other offers you have (but be sure to read any fine print). You may be pushed into taking out larger loan, but be careful not to let your total monthly auto expenses top 20% of your take-home pay.

It’s also a good idea to get pre-approved for an auto loan before stepping foot in the dealer’s lot or visiting their website. [Stop by Listerhill today to find out about our fantastic auto loans!]

Step 2: Create a target list

What make and model vehicle do you want to buy? Car? Truck? SUV? Hybrid? There are many choices and options.

Check out Consumer Reports or J.D. Power for reliability ratings on vehicles from the most recent model years. You’ll find detailed reviews and lists of common trouble spots to note. Narrow down your choices to three or four model cars.

Step 3: Research

With just a few keystrokes, you can get the skinny on your vehicles of choice. Visit Cars.com or TrueCar.com to get started. You can also find used cars for sale in any of these locations:

  1. The used-car section of new-car dealerships
  2. Used-car dealerships
  3. Used-car retailers like CarMax.com
  4. Websites, like Craigslist.com or AutoTrader.com, where car owners list their vehicles for sale

Of the four choices, private-party sellers will likely offer the lowest price. However, these cars are not backed by dealerships, so you’re taking a bigger risk with the purchase.

When researching available cars, be sure to consider the vehicle’s year, make, model and mileage. It’s also a good idea to find out what the average asking price is for the car you want to buy.

Step 4: Get the vehicle history report

Once you’ve narrowed down your search, learn all you can about each vehicle. What kind of repairs or maintenance did it undergo? Was it ever involved in a collision? Find out with a vehicle history report!

You can get a detailed vehicle report on AutoCheck.com or Carfax.com. Ask the dealer if they have one available for review – policies vary, but many will gladly show it to your or email you a copy. If obtaining one on your own, you’ll be asked for the vehicle identification number (VIN) or for the license plate number.

Step 5: Call the seller

Contact the seller to verify the information you’ve learned about the car. If you’re using a private-party seller, ask the owner why they’re selling the car and inquire about any possible mechanical issues. If you’re working with a dealership, a phone call or an email is a quick way to make sure the car is still available. You can also ask for any basic information about the car that you weren’t able to find out on your own.

If everything checks out, set up an appointment to take the car for a test drive.

Step 6: Test drive

Pay attention to these details as you try out your potential new car:

  • Is there sufficient legroom and headroom?
  • Is the ride smooth?
  • How is the acceleration and power?
  • Are the seats comfortable and adjustable?
  • Is the “check engine” light illuminated after initial startup?
  • Do you have full visibility?
  • Are the brakes working well and working quietly?
  • Do all the lights (headlights, brake lights, turning signals, internal lights) work?
  • Do the automatic window mechanisms and lock-door buttons work?

If your car has passed the test drive, ask to see the vehicle’s service records to determine if the car is current with its scheduled maintenance check-ups.

Step 7: Have it professionally inspected

Private sellers and most dealerships won’t have a problem with you taking the car to a mechanic for an inspection. Having your car professionally inspected will only cost you about $100 now, but it can save you loads of aggravation and lots of money down the line.

Step 8: Negotiate

Here’s where the real fun starts! If you’ve worked out your financing, you already know your spending cap. Otherwise, work it out now before you start bargaining.

When negotiating a price, don’t talk about monthly payments; talk about the price of the car. Make an opening offer based on the average price for your car and use all the information you’ve learned about your vehicle as bargaining chips. Be firm and don’t sound desperate and you will land up with a fairly priced vehicle.

Step 9: Make it official

You’re ready to become the official new owner of your car.

If you’re working with a dealership, you’ll sign the contract in their financing office. You may be offered additional products and protection here, but make sure the price is worthwhile. [Here at Listerhill, we are able to extend similar protection to our members and have a variety of options. Let’s talk more!]

Don’t be alarmed if you see extra charges tacked onto your documentation; things like sales tax and a license fee are standard in most states. If you’re buying your car from a private-party seller, make sure the title and registration are officially transferred to you.

Finally, don’t drive off the dealer’s lot until you have insurance. Now, you’re all set to power up and take your new car for its first spin!

SOURCES:

https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/loans/buy-used-car/

https://www.edmunds.com/car-buying/10-steps-to-buying-a-used-car.html

https://www.carbuyingtips.com/used.htm

https://clark.com/cars/how-to-buy-a-used-car/

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  • The Great Giveback Official Rules

    1. Eligibility: No purchase or obligation necessary to participate and win. All participants must be 19 years of age or older at time of contest participation. Employees of Listerhill Credit Union are not eligible to register for the contest.

    2. How To Enter the Contest: All Listerhill members who have consumer loans in good standing, (subject to limitations below) are automatically entered. Anyone who takes out a new loan with Listerhill Credit Union, or refinances a loan from another lender with Listerhill Credit Union (subject to limitations below) will automatically be entered to win. Limit of one entry per loan.

    NO PURCHASE NECESSARY: To enter the contest without a loan, send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to: Listerhill Credit Union, P.O. Box 566, Sheffield, AL 35660, Attn: Great Giveback Contest Entry. Limit one entry per person. Written entries must be received no later than July 3, 2021.

    Listerhill Credit Union will not be responsible for incomplete, lost, late, misdirected or illegible entries or for failure to receive entries. All entries become property of Listerhill Credit Union and none will be returned. Any questions regarding the number of entries submitted shall be determined by Listerhill Credit Union in its sole discretion, and Listerhill Credit Union reserves the right to disqualify any entries by persons determined to be tampering with, violating, or abusing any aspect of the contest.

    3. Contest Entry Requirements: In the event the Credit Union, in its sole discretion, determines that any Entry contains content that does not comply with these Official Rules or does not otherwise comply with regulatory guidelines, Credit Union reserves the right to disqualify the entry.

    4. Determining the Winner: A Credit Union employee will select at random four (4) $500 winners (one per day July 12-15) and one Grand Prize Winner from all entries received on July 16, 2021. You do not have to be present to win.

    5. Prizes: $500 Cash Prize: the Credit Union will award four (4) members with $500 cash each. Grand Prize: The Credit Union will pay up to $25,000 toward your loan with Listerhill Credit Union, or combination of loans. No loan payments will be made to loans with any other lender. No cash equivalent provided, and the total prize amount may be less depending on the outstanding amount of loan balance(s) with Listerhill Credit Union. In no event will the prize awarded exceed the total amount of the winner’s outstanding balance of qualifying loans with Listerhill Credit Union. Federal, state and local taxes are the sole responsibility of the winner. IRS regulations require the Credit Union file a 1099 on behalf of the winner.

    A Credit Union employee will call the prize winners and the prize winners will be called up to five times during regular business hours at number provided on entry form and will leave no messages. Failure to reach winner during these calls may result in disqualification of winner, forfeiture of his or her interest in all prizes, and selection of a substitute winner drawn from the drum. Winner will be required to schedule a time, at least 48 hours in advance, to visit Listerhill Credit Union, located at 4790 2nd Street, Muscle Shoals AL, 35661 in person, during regular business hours within seven (7) days of being notified to claim prizes by providing proof of eligibility for prize won and completing and signing an affidavit of eligibility and a liability and publicity release. Failure of any Winner to timely contact the Credit Union, visit the above Credit Union office in person and sign and return any required affidavit and release, or to claim a prize or comply with any term or condition of these Official Rules, will result in drawing Winner's disqualification and the forfeiture of his or her interest in the prize. Winners may waive their right to receive prizes. Prizes are non-assignable and nontransferable. No substitutions allowed by winner.

    6. To be eligible to win, all loans must be in good standing (not more than 30 days past due at the time of drawing. Eligible loans are limited to auto loans (no indirect dealer loans), personal loans (no loans secured by real property, such as mortgages, 2nd mortgages, and Home Equity Lines of Credit) and recreation loans made to consumer borrowers (not business or commercial loans).

    6. Participation. By participating, entrants agree to be bound by these Official Rules and the decisions of the Contest. Except where prohibited, acceptance of any prize constitutes winner's consent to the publication of his or her name, biographical information and likeness in any media for any commercial or promotional purpose, without limitation the Internet, or further compensation. Prizes not won and claimed by eligible winners in accordance with these Official Rules will not be awarded and will remain the property of the Credit Union.

  • How do I redeem my Merchandise Rewards?

    The easiest way to redeem your Merchandise Rewards is to log into Listerhill’s Online Banking and click the “Get Info” link to the right of your credit card information. This will take you to our credit card servicing site within the same window. Select “Rewards” on the upper right side within the screen (below FICO Score) and on the next screen, click on the CURewards logo. This will automatically sign you in to be able to redeem your Merchandise Rewards points!