2009 PatriotWhen looking for a good used car you can either buy through a private seller or go to a used car lot or dealership. Car lots and dealerships have advantages (if they are honest) that individuals can’t offer you. For example, dealers offer more buyer protection, and usually financing.

Assuming you choose to buy through a dealer, you will want to do some research to reassure yourself that they have a good reputation in town and are in good standing with local business groups like the BBB. You can find a lot of information on the internet by doing a search for that particular dealer. Of course, references from friends and acquaintances are also a great source.

One of the first things you will want to do before looking is to decide how much you can afford to spend. Online calculators can help you if you need a loan. It is important not to miss this step as you could get carried away by the sheer beauty of the cars you are looking at and spend much more than you can afford.

If you have a trade-in vehicle, try to get a rough valuation before going in. Be prepared for it to be worth less than you think. Cars depreciate quite quickly.

Once you have decided on a rough price range, consider the various models out there and settle on a few that meet your needs. If you don’t need 7 seats most of the time, or only need 2 doors, choose accordingly – you will usually save money.

Do your research on the car manufacturer and the model of car you are interested in. Obviously, there are tried and true names such as Toyota and Honda. Most of the others are also worth your time and money, however various models they manufacture will vary in quality and reliability.

Again, the internet is a good source of information and will help you avoid buying a ‘lemon’. Try to choose a car that has a good track record. You don’t want to end up having to pay for costly repairs in future. The sales rep should be able to help you here, but remember, no one will be more interested in what’s good for you than you.

It’s also important to remember that in many cases, used cars have more profit potential built into them than new cars. Try to drive the best deal you can with the sales rep. Remember, he wants a sale as much as you want a car. If you think it will help to take a friend or family member along to assist you with your choice and negotiations, then do so.

Deciding what car to buy is a big event in anyone’s life. It is often the single largest purchase we make outside of a home. Picking the right dealer to purchase through is as important as the type of car you are considering buying. Do your homework on both and you will avoid having buyer’s remorse. Here’s to a happy car-buying experience!