Updated: May 18, 2020
Given that you’ll no doubt want your buying experience to go smoothly, and to avoid getting stuck in a vehicle that you don’t want to keep in the long run, place a ‘check’ besides all eight points on this checklist, before handing over the cash and taking the keys.
1. Set Your Budget
Before buying a car, work through your monthly household budget. The widely accepted guidelines for budgeting say that you should spend no more than 20% of your take-home pay on your car.
2. Find the Right Car
Once you know how much you can spend each month, the next step is to figure out how much car you can afford. This starts with narrowing down the type of car you need. What suits your lifestyle? Build the rest of your car buying adventure around the right type of car.
3. Read Reviews
Once you’ve narrowed it down to a class (or type) of car, it’s time to read reviews to pick a specific make and model. Go online and pull up owner reviews to see how well people who already own the car have enjoyed the experience.
4. Search Your Area
Keep the Internet working for you by searching for used cars for sale in your area. Check out online classifieds, private sales, and message boards.
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5. Order the Car History Report
When you find a nearby car that meets your needs, use its vehicle identification number (VIN) to order a car history report.
6. Take a Test Drive
If you’re satisfied with the results of the car history report, contact the seller to schedule a test drive. Never buy a car without driving it first.
7. Schedule an Inspection
The seventh must-do on our checklist is to take the car under consideration is to schedule a pre-purchase inspection with a mechanic you know and trust.
8. Sign and Drive
After the car receives a clean bill of health from the garage, it’s time to seal the deal. Just remember to get a written receipt for the transaction and to collect all the legal paperwork you’ll need to register and operate the vehicle within the limits of the law.
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