5 Used Car Buying Tips to Consider

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Megan Foukes is a recent graduate from Indiana University who graduated with a bachelor’s in journalism. Megan works as a content writer for Auto Credit Express and contributes to several automotive and finance blogs.


, - February 6, 2019

If you’re thinking about buying a used car, you should be aware of what you need to look out for and how to shop for one. If you’re not sure where to start, check out these five used car buying tips.

What Are Your Needs?

The first thing you should do is sit back and consider what you need when you’re used car shopping. Do you plan on being the only one driving the vehicle, or are you sharing it with family? How much space do you need? How many miles do you plan on driving daily? How important is reliability, safety, and fuel economy? These are all questions you need to ask yourself before you begin researching. You don’t want to end up with a used car that looks nice, but isn’t practical for your everyday needs.

What’s Your Budget?

Once you know what you want out of a used vehicle, how much car can you afford? The selling price is important, but it shouldn’t be the first thing you look at. You need to consider the overall cost, which includes the selling price, down payment, insurance, tax, title, license fees, and interest expenses – not to mention the additional costs of ownership like fuel and maintenance.

One way you can estimate how much vehicle you can afford is by using our Car Loan Calculator. You need to know an approximate monthly payment you’re looking for, the down payment amount, your credit score, your state’s sales tax, and how long you want to finance a car. From there, you can see a list of vehicles that fall within the estimated finance range and view multiple used models.

Research Vehicle History

Once you have an idea about what you’re looking for and what your price range is, you can do some extensive used car research. Look up the specific makes and models you’re considering by visiting manufacturer websites, read current and previous owner reviews, and check NHTSA and IIHS for safety ratings.

Test Drive and Condition Check

Now it’s time to see the used car in person and give it a test drive. Make sure you do your own "condition check" to make sure everything works. From the buttons to the stereo and more, it’s important that everything works inside and out. When you take it for a test drive, make sure the radio is off so you can listen for any odd noises.

Additionally, make sure you get a vehicle history report. If the dealer doesn't provide one you can purchase one from CARFAX, or check it for free on VINCheck.info. The report should provide extensive information on any accidents, loss records, the vehicle's odometer history, and more.

If it clears that hurdle and you want to buy a particular model, you should have a certified mechanic perform a thorough inspection. If additional problems not listed on the vehicle history report are found, it should be a red flag and you may want to consider another car.

Getting Financed

Finally, the last step is to get financed. If you’re denied pre-approval from a bank, credit union, or other lender and don’t know where to go, you still have options, and CarsDirect can help you find the financing you need.

We work with dealerships all across the country that specialize in helping consumers in nearly all types of credit situations get financed. CarsDirect can work to match you with a local dealer, so start the process by filling out our secure auto loan request form online. The process is free of cost and obligation, so you can start with confidence today!

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Megan Foukes is a recent graduate from Indiana University who graduated with a bachelor’s in journalism. Megan works as a content writer for Auto Credit Express and contributes to several automotive and finance blogs.


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