Getting a Used Car Quote for Buying Used Cars

March 9, 2012

Getting a used car quote is easier than ever, which makes it all the more important to get multiple used car quotes—both online and at the dealership.

Finding a good used car quote is important whether you're buying from a dealership or from an individual seller. It's important that you be able to compare prices. While this might be easier when you're buying from dealership services, it pays to see how cars of equal quality and condition compare in price elsewhere.

Obtaining the Quote
There are a few ways to obtain a quote. One way is to look online. Blue Book values will show where a car is priced, on average, across the country. These values give you a good idea of how your local market compares in terms of the prices overall. If your market seems to be very expensive, you may consider looking for a used car elsewhere or online.

Comparing Quotes
To obtain a quote from a dealer, simply inquire with that dealer about the cost of the car, based on payment plans and your potential trade in offers. Some calculations have to be made in order to determine the final cost of the car. After you've done this for several dealers, and have compared quotes online as well, you can look for the one that will give you the best value for money, and for your particular method of paying off the car over time.

Advantages of Getting a Used Car Quote at a Dealership

There are some advantages of getting a used car quote at a dealership.

Access to a Wider Inventory
A dealer has access to a car that you are looking to buy within their inventory and from the inventory of other dealers. If the car is within the dealer's stock, you can drive it off the lot immediately. If the car has to be acquired from another dealer, arrangements can be made for the dealer to have the car shipped without you incurring certain transportation and delivery costs. This also gives you a wide range of cars to choose from at a single location.

Finding a Better Price
The dealer, through its buying power, can find a better price on the car that you want. This can be a better deal for you than attempting to negotiate a deal privately or with an online seller. The dealer quote can represent the best price on the market for the car and give you some room for negotiation. This opportunity to negotiate the price is not always available through private sellers.

The Benefits of Getting Multiple Used Car Quotes

Getting multiple used car quotes is helpful in a number of ways. Different quotes will help you to compare prices and make the best decision based on your needs.

Best Pricing Possibilities
Multiple car quotes for the same type of vehicle will show you the dealership that gives you the best options. This means you'll be better able to find the same quality car you're looking for, for a lower total cost to you. You can find vehicles with the least amount of damage or the lowest number of miles, for instance. This allows you the benefit of picking the exact vehicle that meets your needs.

Best Financing Options
Different dealerships and lenders have different ways of financing a car sale. This can be extremely important if you don't have the money to pay for the entire vehicle up front. Shop around and get different quotes to also learn about the various ways you can finance the payments on your car.

Dealer Rapport
Many people find that shopping around with different dealerships allows them the comfort of finding the dealer with whom they would most like to work with. If this is an issue that might make you more comfortable in your selection, shop around for quotes.

Questions to Ask When Getting Used Car Quotes

When searching for used car quotes, you should be prepared with a list of questions to ask the salesperson. This list will help you get your questions in order so you are fully equipped to inform yourself when the time comes to start shopping.

  • Does it come with a warranty? If you are shopping at a dealership, ask about any used car warranties that may be offered or for sale on the car you have an interest in. Many previously driven autos come with warranties when sold through a dealer, or they can be purchased additionally
  • Is it available for lease? Ask for a used car lease quote. If your financial situation is in order and it would benefit you, consider leasing a used car. Perhaps they have a formerly leased trade-in that they can get you a great deal on
  • What is the car's repair history? Inquire about the repair history of the used car of your choice. It may not always be available, but dealerships that stand behind their used cars for sale will often have extensive repair histories on record. This will let you know the overall condition of the car you might purchase
  • What kind of financing is available? If you are unable to purchase the used car outright, you will need financing. Many dealerships offer in-house financing through a specified lender, and if you choose to work with them, you may be able to get a favorable interest rate. It is worth it to shop around for financing-even getting pre-approved if you can-but have the question ready to ask the salesperson just in case they can offer you a better deal
  • Is that as low as you can go? Haggling with a used car dealer can never hurt. Many of them enjoy it if you play hardball. Just because the price is in print on the window does not mean it cannot go lower. If you are unsure about this question, ask yourself: is there any harm in asking? Worst case scenario: you offend the dealer and move on down the road to the next one

Common Used Car Quote Scams

While the majority of used car dealerships are ethical and honest businesses, there are a few that may take advantage of customers and try to cheat them out of their hard-earned money. Unscrupulous car dealers employ a variety of dishonest methods for making a used car quote appear more attractive than it really is.

Vehicle Disclosures and Misrepresentations
One of the most common scams associated with a used-car quote is simply misrepresenting the vehicle included in the quote. When selling a used vehicle, dealerships are required to disclose certain facts about a used vehicle that may make it less attractive for potential customers. For example, a vehicle may be a salvaged or junk titled vehicle, which means the vehicle has been issued a special title that will forever mark the vehicle because it has been totally rebuilt.

These vehicles have been involved in a wreck, have been totaled by an insurance company and are worth far less than identical vehicles with regular car titles. Even if the vehicle has been restored to 100 percent operating condition, the vehicle will never be more worth more than 50 percent or 60 percent of the value of a vehicle that does not have a junk or salvage title. So, when purchasing a used vehicle at a dealership, always ask them specifically about the title status of the vehicle. Also, make sure the quote is specifically for the car you're looking at.

Used Car Financing Scams
Sometimes, unscrupulous used-car dealers will inform prospective purchasers they have been approved for a low rate used car loan. They will accept a down payment, give the customer keys to the vehicle and allow the person to drive it home. Sometime thereafter, the used car dealership will call to inform the purchaser that he or she failed to qualify for the low rate financing. They will then tell the purchaser who wants to keep the car that new financing, at a higher interest rate, is required.

The dealership knew exactly what type of interest rate the purchaser qualified for at the time of the sale but did not inform him or her of the higher rate because of the possibility the car might not be purchased. In order to avoid this scam, customers should arrange financing before visiting the used-car dealership. Local banks and credit unions are good places to check for pre-approved financing for a used car loan. Potential purchasers who have been pre-approved are usually better able to concentrate on negotiating a better selling price for the car.

Rewritten Contracts and Backdating
Sometimes, a customer will not qualify for financing under the terms of the original car purchase contract. The customer may be required to increase the amount of down payment or even pay a higher interest rate to qualify for a car loan. The dealership may require the customer to sign a new contract and backdate the date of the original contract. This will result in the customer's paying financing charges from the original date of purchase even though the contract was not in effect on the indicated date. Backdating almost always costs the consumer more money in addition to being illegal in all states. If you are asked to sign a new contract make sure the contract is dated for the date you actually sign it and is not backdated.