Top 10 Mistakes When Buying a Used Car

August 6th, 2016 by


Nobody likes to talk about the mistakes they’ve made when buying used cars in the past. It’s such a touchy topic, but lots of people want to know what mistakes to avoid, which is why we’re devoting this post on the Auto City blog to the topic. These are not ranked in any particular order, they’re just the top 10 mistakes we’ve seen people make over the years when buying a used car. If you are a first-time car buyer, you will greatly benefit from our post on top 10 common first-time car buyer mistakes as well.

1. Not knowing what you can afford

Before you even start thinking about buying a used car, take the time to give your finances are a hard look. How much can you put together for a down payment? What would be a comfortable monthly payment and for how many months? What’s your credit score like? This is all information you want to know before you start car shopping. The last thing you want to do is fall in love with a car and only later (sometimes after purchasing it) realize you just can’t afford it. Shop within your means and you’ll save yourself a whole lot of heartache. If you need help determining what you can afford for in terms of used cars in San Diego, then stop by Auto City and we’ll be glad to give you a hand.

2. Not knowing what you want

You shouldn’t narrow this all the way down to make, model, year, color, and features, but you should have a pretty good idea of what you want before you start shopping. Just think about the things that are “must-haves.” Is all-wheel-drive a must because of where you live? Do you hate SUVs? How many people will typically be in the car on most days? Knowing what you don’t want can be just as important as knowing what you do want, and both help you spend less time looking.

3. Failing to check a dealer’s reputation

There are lots of car dealerships out there, and nearly all of them carry used car inventory. Do yourself a favor and check the reputations of dealers in your area using such sites as Yelp, Google, and DealerRater. Don’t waste your time going to dealerships with consistently poor reviews.

4. Letting your heart rule your head

However hard it may be, you need to try and take emotion out of the used car buying process. You need to be rational and logical and thorough. This is the only way to avoid such things as buying a little convertible because it’s just so cool when obviously what you need is a minivan to drive your kids around to all their activities.

5. Indecision

When you do come across that sweet deal on a vehicle that would be perfect for you, jump on it! You can bet there are plenty of other buyers also looking for that same sweet deal on that same car, and if you walk away from it because you want to think about it, the car will likely be gone by the time you’re done thinking about it.

6. Failing to do your homework

You’re going to have a hard time getting a good deal if you have no clue what fair prices are for what you think you want or need. You have to spend some time getting familiar with prices for the kinds of cars you want. Use sites like Kelly Blue Book, NADA Guides, and Edmunds to explore pricing. What you’re looking for are sites that do a good job with giving a range of what people are paying in your area.

7. Not test driving a car

Are you surprised to see this on the list? Who would actually buy a car without test-driving it? Believe it or not, it happens all the time. Don’t do it! Get in the car and drive it. It will tell you a lot about whether or not it’s the car for you.

8. Being a perfectionist

Yes, everyone shopping for a used car wants to get that amazing deal on a vehicle with low mileage that has also been immaculately maintained and comes with the full set of service records to prove it. Stop for a minute and remember you’re shopping for a used car. Perfection is not a realistic option, so don’t fall prey to it or you may never get the used car you’re looking for.

9. Only buying private-sale-by-owner cars

Some people are adamant about only looking at cars for private sale by the owner, but this eliminates a lot of great possibilities. If you can find a reputable used car dealer, then you’ll enjoy all the benefits of a larger selection, the possibility of warranties, and other helpful products and services like help with obtaining financing, service contracts, gap insurance, theft protection, and so on.

10. Failing to ask for a vehicle report

Vehicle reports are an essential part of the used car shopping process. They contain valuable information about a car, such as whether or not it has been in major accidents, had flood damage, or carries a salvage title. At Auto City, we make a CARFAX history report available for every single one of our vehicles. We think it’s the least we can do to give you the peace of mind you deserve that you’re getting a great deal.

At Auto City, we make shopping for used cars in the San Diego area a pleasant experience. Stop by today and find out how we do it, or explore our inventory online.