What to Look for When Buying a Used Vehicle

October 18th, 2023 by

Looking to buy a used car in Bradenton, Florida? If so, you should know a few things before visiting a dealership. With a little research and preparation, you can find a quality pre-owned vehicle at a price within your budget. Explore this used-car buying guide for helpful tips to find the right vehicle.

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Know Your Budget

Before looking at used cars, set a budget for the purchase. If you plan to buy a car with cash, review your bank accounts to know how much you can spend. For many people, the best way to finance the purchase of a used vehicle is to take out a loan. If you plan to do this, calculate your monthly expenses and determine how much you can repay. Remember to include other vehicle-related expenses, such as registration, insurance, and maintenance, when calculating.

It’s not the most exciting part of buying a used vehicle, but deciding how much you’re willing to pay before visiting a dealership is essential, as this ensures you only look at cars you can afford. You don’t want to fall in love with a used vehicle and discover it’s outside your price range.

Research Used Vehicles

Once you’ve defined your budget, you can research used vehicles. Besides the cost savings, one of the biggest benefits of purchasing a used vehicle is the sheer number of options available. You can explore many makes, models, and trims until you find the perfect car for your family.

If you find the choice overwhelming, make a list of your must-haves. Then, add some non-essential features you would like to have to the list. For example, a three-row SUV may be non-negotiable, and you’d prefer one with all-wheel drive, though it’s not a deal breaker. Do your research and narrow your options to the top two or three used vehicles you want to test-drive.

Shop for Cars

Shopping for a new-to-you car is where the fun part begins. You can check out used vehicles put on the market by private sellers; however, visiting a reputable used car dealer is usually more convenient. When you visit a dealership, you can access a wider inventory of used vehicles. You may also have more confidence in the quality and condition of the vehicles you’re interested in.

For even more peace of mind, visit a dealership that sells certified pre-owned (CPO) vehicles. The requirements for CPO vehicles vary according to the brand, but most have to meet certain age, mileage, and quality specifications. They undergo a rigorous inspection process and usually come with a manufacturer’s extended warranty. At Firkins Auto Group, we sell a variety of high-quality CPO vehicles, including Mitsubishi, Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, and Ram. Our CPO models meet high safety, quality, and reliability standards. Essentially, it’s equivalent to getting a like-new car for the price of a used one.

Get a Vehicle History Report

When you’re ready to look at a used vehicle, ask for its history report. This document provides essential information regarding the car’s ownership history. It can tell you whether a vehicle has been in a major accident or natural disaster, such as flooding. The report can also provide the vehicle’s service and maintenance records. Most dealerships offer vehicle history reports for their used cars, so normally, you don’t need to purchase them.

Test-Drive the Car

Never purchase a vehicle, used or otherwise, without taking it for a test drive. A test drive will reveal how well the car performs on the Bradenton roads and allow you to determine whether it’s a good fit for you. If you are uncomfortable during the test drive, you won’t feel better when driving it home.

Below are the main areas you should check before and during a test drive:

  • Sit in all the seats to ensure enough head and legroom for you and your passengers.
  • Adjust the driver’s seat and evaluate its comfort. Make sure you can see when you’re behind the wheel.
  • Test the headlights, brake lights, and turn signals to ensure they function properly.
  • Check the air conditioning and heater to make sure they work.
  • Turn on the stereo and, if applicable, plug in your phone to ensure it’s compatible with the infotainment system.
  • Evaluate the car’s handling, such as how well it turns and how smoothly it drives.
  • Test the brakes and evaluate their responsiveness.
  • Listen for odd noises, such as squeaking and grinding.
  • Look under the vehicle for leaks that may indicate potential problems.

Sign the Paperwork

After the test drive, make sure to ask any other questions you have about the car. At Firkins Auto Group, our knowledgeable sales staff will happily answer any questions you have about the used vehicles on our lots. We won’t pressure you or rush you into making a decision.

Once you decide to buy the car, it’s time to do the paperwork. You’ll sign the sales contract that includes the price of the vehicle and sales tax. If you’re financing the vehicle, you’ll also fill out the documents for the loan. Ensure you bring your driver’s license and proof of your insurance and income. If you’re trading in a vehicle, don’t forget to bring the registration and title.

Once you’ve signed on the dotted line, we’ll hand you the keys to your new vehicle. Congratulations — it’s now time to take a ride to celebrate.

Buying a Used Car in Bradenton, Florida

When buying a used car, know what to look for to ensure a good deal on a quality vehicle. Not sure where to start? We offer hundreds of pre-owned vehicles at Firkins Auto Group in Bradenton, Florida. Our used vehicle inventory includes makes and models from top car brands, such as Mitsubishi, Jeep, Dodge, Toyota, Honda, and Ford. We even have cars priced under $20,000, so you can save more money on a used vehicle. For more information on our pre-owned inventory, contact us today.

Photo Credit: Image via OEM

Posted in Used Vehicles