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Used Car Checklist: Top Factors to Consider When Buying Pre-Owned

Thinking about buying a used car? Financial experts claim it is the best way to save money. Without the hefty price tag of a brand new vehicle or a down payment on a lease, buyers can reap the benefits of saving money while driving a safe and practical car on the road. But you’ll need a used car checklist to make sure you get a good deal on a quality ride.

Used cars often come with the stigma of being old or unreliable. Fortunately, there is a frequent influx of used vehicles on the car market, giving drivers a wide variety of options to choose from. If liability is your main concern, all it takes is the proper research and the right deal to make finding a used car an enjoyable process. 

Key takeaways

  • Purchasing a used car is a smart financial decision
  • Choosing a reputable dealership is imperative
  • Make sure to have the vehicle inspected before signing the title
  • Used cars usually have a lower insurance rate

What factors are part of the used car checklist?

Buying a vehicle is a big investment. Whether you’re purchasing a new or used car, you want to make sure you are making the best decision possible. Before you sign the dotted line, there are certain factors you’ll want to consider. Take a look at the top constituents below: 

1. Budget

Get the most bang for your buck. Before you even consider buying a used car, it is important to determine your maximum price point. The budget you set should fit within your financial means, while making sure you check off must-have features, like a high safety-rating or low-fuel economy. 

2. Vehicle history: review the accident report 

The interior or exterior of a used car may appear good as new, but there could be underlying issues that would ultimately deter you from purchasing that specific vehicle. It is crucial for all potential used car buyers to check out a vehicle’s history on CARFAX. This website will provide a full report detailing any prior accidents, maintenance repairs, number or owners, and mileage.

3. Reputation of the car

The reputation of a make and model plays a big role on whether a used vehicle is worth buying. Thanks to the vast resources on the internet, potential buyers can search through countless reviews and manufacturer recalls to see if a used car will stand the test of time. Since you are buying an older model, you want to do as much research as possible to limit your likelihood of making a bad purchase.

4. Take a test drive

Do not rush into a decision before you’ve properly tested out a vehicle with a used car checklist. A used car can come with a lot of uncertainties that you’ll want to take into consideration. By taking multiple test drives, you can get a better feel for how smooth it rides, blind spots, brakes, and whether there are any unwelcome mechanical noises or air conditioning problems. 

5. Warranty

The most pronounced risk of buying a used car is the potential for costly repairs down the road. Here’s when warranty steps in. Oftentimes a “Certified Used Car” is protected under a dealership’s warranty, but you won’t know for sure unless you read the fine print. If the used car you are looking at is older than five years, make sure you ask about extended warranty options. It’s better to be safe than sorry. 

6. Buy from a creditable dealership, + double check the title information

At, we can’t stress this enough. You want to buy a used car from a dealership with a good reputation. If you are buying from a family member or stranger, make sure all the title information is correct. You want to have a smooth transaction without any potential hold ups or disappointments after the sale is completed. 

7. Safety

This one may seem obvious, but it remains the most important part of the used car checklist. When it comes to the safety of you and your family, you do not want to take any risks. Consider having a full inspection completed before you purchase a used car. The inspector will thoroughly evaluate the interior, exterior, headlight quality, and under the hood for any engine concerns. 

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Are you ready to buy a used car? Take this used car checklist with you

When the time comes to purchase your next vehicle, remember to consider these seven factors. Don’t be quick to check off used cars from your list of possibilities. The benefits of buying a used car go beyond being a savvy buyer, you also won’t have to worry about fast depreciation or high insurance costs throughout the time of ownership. With the amount of online resources that are readily available today, including car vending machines and 7 day return policies, buyers have never had a better opportunity to research and test out what make and model best suits their lifestyle.



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Michaella Malone
Hello! My name is Michaella Malone. I am a graduate of Florida State University with a B.A. in English. I am a freelance writer with varied experience in ghostwriting, blogging, and resume building. I have additional knowledge in creating content for ESL curriculums.

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    1. I definitely always check the Carfax and get a full inspection before purchasing. Anytime a dealership or seller thinks it is odd that I want to get an inspection, I move on. I typically also check this website that rates cars. But I do not quite remember the site.

    2. Its worth paying a mechanic to check out the car before you buy it. Look for anything odd like scratches and scuffs or body lines that do not line up or paint that doesn’t quite match. Damage will be hidden when you buy a car because they do not want to report it. Leave the mechanical testing to a good mechanic. They will find what is needed.

    3. There can be a lot of savings buying a used car, and nowadays you can know the history and feel safe buying a not so new car.

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