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Tips for Shopping for a Used Vehicle

Buying a used car can be a great way to get a reliable, long-lasting vehicle without spending full-price. Whether looking for a car just one or two years old or a car that has had some time on the road, it’s important to do your research before choosing your new-to-you car to make sure it’s a safe and financially smart investment.

Determine Your Budget
When shopping for a used car, consider not only purchase price but also maintenance costs. While a new vehicle often comes with warranties and complimentary maintenance for a certain period of time, those will likely not be included with a used car. Older cars may also require more maintenance and replacement of various parts, depending on how fastidious the previous owner was with keeping everything up-to-date. A used car may save you money up front, but it won’t seem so affordable if you have to shell out thousands for repairs and upkeep, so be sure to do your homework.

Find the Right Car
The next step is finding the car that fits both your needs and budget. First, you will need to decide exactly what features you want and which ones you can live without. For example, if you commute often you may want a hybrid with exceptional gas mileage, or if you have a large family you may need to consider an SUV. Used vehicles may not have all the features of a brand new one, so be sure to prioritize what’s most important for you.

Once you know what type of car you want, you can start shopping. New car dealerships offer used vehicles, but they are often priced higher than those you will find elsewhere. A few places to consider are: CarMax, Carvana, showroom lawns and independent car dealerships like Carousel Preowned. You can also purchase a used car through independent sellers on places like Craigslist, but it comes with greater risk and more paperwork for both parties.

Research, Drive and Inspect
Once you find a potential vehicle, checking the Kelly Blue Book (KBB) value can give you an idea of how well the car is priced. Next, you should get a vehicle history report from Carfax or another reputable agency. These reports offer information such as maintenance and accident history so you know exactly what it’s been through.

Once you have the history and feel comfortable with the price, the next step is to test drive the car. Pay attention to how it feels on flat vs. bumpy roads, around turns, up hills, etc. Also keep an ear out for any rattles, squeaks, or other odd sounds, and be sure to turn down the air conditioning and check for smells coming from the engine.

If you’re happy after the test drive, you should inspect the car both visually and, ideally, mechanically. Even without too much car experience, this list from the DMV can give you an idea of things to check before committing to the purchase.

Making the Purchase
Once you feel confident that this is the car for you, it’s time to move forward with purchasing. Whether coming to the table with cash or a preapproved loan, remember that you can always negotiate with the dealership or independent seller. Bringing research to the table, such as the KBB value and history report, can offer some leverage if you feel the car is a bit overpriced. Finally, once you’ve settled on price and are moving forward, be sure to add your new car to your insurance policy to make sure you’re covered as soon as possible.

When in the market for a used car, stop by Carousel Preowned. Carousel Preowned serving Iowa City, Cedar Rapids, Davenport, North Liberty, Marion, and Coralville, IA, is proud to be an automotive leader in our community. We do our best to ensure your complete satisfaction every time you step into our car dealership. This is why we offer the widest selection of used and pre-owned cars, trucks, and SUVs and provide true ease of purchase in Iowa.

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