How to Prepare for Buying a Used Car

The car buying process can be tough, and it’ll be made even more difficult if you kind of just throw yourself into the fray. Preparing for a car purchase is of utmost important, especially considering how much money you’ll be looking to pay. Even if you’re seeking a used car, the lessons below are still valuable.Before you decide to head down to your local Lexington used car lots, take a look at our lesson below. You’ll have a better understanding of what you should have prepared, what you should be looking out for, and what you should be keeping in mind during your search. If you take the lessons to heart, you could potentially save yourself a boatload of money.

Understand What You Want

Well, you’ve already accomplished part of this task by determining that you want a used car. Where do you go next? There are plenty of options.

It’s always a good idea to have a general idea of what kind of vehicle you’re seeking when you’re shopping around. There are several factors that need to be taken into account, specifically your automotive needs and your budget.

It doesn’t make sense to go shopping for a sports car when you have a two-hour commute each day. You’ll want to zero in and prioritize car functions, distinguishing which features are of utmost importance and which are expendable. Due to the long ride, maybe you’re seeking a car with great fuel efficiency, or perhaps because of the zig-zagging roads, you’d rather opt for a car with better handling. These are factors that should be figured out prior to your trip to a dealership.

The budget is particularly important, and you should understand how much money you’ll want to spend and how you’ll go about paying for the vehicle. If you decide to pay for the vehicle out-of-pocket, you’ll want to factor in the inevitable transfer and registrations fees, and you’ll probably want to account for repair bills, as well.

If you’d rather finance the vehicle, but you’re skeptical of a dealership’s financing, visit your bank or credit union to determine a payment plan. Having this all figured out prior to your car search will save you plenty of time and headaches. It will also help you stay realistic, as you won’t be as prone to zooming past your budget.

There are several other factors you’ll want to understand prior to visiting a dealership. For example, you may be presented with a choice between a used car and a certified used car, which is essentially a used vehicle that’s been given a thumbs up from the manufacturer. Not understanding this (and similar concepts) could lead to you paying more for amenities you didn’t want or need.

Know What to Look For

Negotiating is a key part of the car-buying process, and the numbers can get a bit screwy when you’re dealing with a used vehicle. The prices of these cars can be somewhat subjective, so it’s a good idea to zero in on some negatives that could drive the price down ever more.

Check for any kind of damage to the exterior or interior. If there are clear aesthetic issues, that’s certainly something to note. Additionally, you’ll want to assure that the vehicle’s mechanicals are working, including all of the exterior lightsandinterior flashing icons. These are essential functions that you’ll need to rely on, and it shouldn’t be your obligation to pay for the repair. If those individual parts aren’t working, finagle to get it out of the price tag.

If you’ve zeroed in on a specific car, it could behoove you to check up on the Vehicle Registration Number (VIN) for that ride. You’ll be able to get a pretty comprehensive background on the car, including any accidents it may have been in. This could help indicate a sinister, underlying issue, and this is especially important if you’re purchasing from a private party.

Know Who You’re Buying From

There are some excellent sources from which you can find used cars, whether it’s a newspaper’s classifieds or from a website like However, you can’t always be sure who you’ll be dealing with in these transactions. Safety aside (although you should make sure you’re with at least one other person), these private parties may be relying on a different price guide. In these situations, it’s often better to agree on a price before you finalize a deal.

You’ll likely have to pay a bit more if you opt to buy from a dealership, but you can at least be assured that you won’t be scammed (or, if you actually are scammed, you’ll know exactly who to go after). Sometimes, these dealerships will even offer warranties. We’re not telling you that those add-ons are worth the price, but there will certainly be situations where these little throw-ins are advantageous, especially when compared to a private-party sale.



The car buying process can be stressful, but it shouldn’t be. You’re making a pretty big investment, and your purchase will likely have a big role in your life over the next decade or so. You should be enjoying the experience, especially since it’s something you go through very infrequently.

Unless there’s some sort of deadline to get a new vehicle, you shouldn’t be rushing through the process. Make sure you absorb all the information that you come across, and rely on your own inkling to whittle down your list. If you’re still unsure of which way to go, check the cars out and give them a ride. There’s no better way to determine whether you’ve picked the right car.

Just remember to stay positive. If you treat the process like a chore, you certainly won’t be happy with the end result. Look at it as a game, and the end result is one of the best grand prizes you could ask for!

Not that difficult, right? Searching for a car requires plenty of time and effort, but the dedication will pay off via your wallet and bank account. Research is really the most important task, and understanding your desired vehicle inside and out will make you feel more comfortable as you’re negotiating for a lower price.

If you are in the market for a used vehicle, head down to Dan Cummins Used dealership. The helpful staff will be able to find the right ride for you at a reasonable price.