You probably heard the cold, hard reality that cars are a liability and that it starts losing value as soon as you drive it off the dealership. Still, having a car gives you freedom to explore the world and convenience to get tasks done. When done right, your car purchase can actually turn into an investment over time.
How Much Is Your Budget
Figure out how much you can comfortably allocate to your planned car purchase. Anywhere between $5,000 and $10,000 will give you a broader range of options to choose from, but it is still possible to find pre-owned vehicles that cost less than $5,000 for those who have budgetary restrictions. Keep in mind that your budget must take into account the expenses beyond ownership, including regular maintenance, replacement parts, car insurance, and toll gate fees. Failing to plan for these expenses may force you to give up ownership of the car in the long-term perspective.
Do Diligent Research
There are simply hundreds of thousands of cars sitting in dealerships across the country. While ‘winging it’ is an option, it is not smart or frugal to do so, especially when it comes to a purchase that involves a big amount of cash. Fortunately, modern web technology has condensed all the information we need into one easily searchable medium, which is the Internet. Websites like Autotrader, Carzoos or Auto Scout 24 have thousands of listings for all types of cars, from pre-owned to brand new, automatic to manual transmission, old-school hot rods to futuristic sports cars.
Build a List of Prospected Cars
Using the collected data from the Internet you should now construct a list of cars that are within your budget and feature preferences. Ideally, you should look for second-tier cars from the less popular yet all the same reliable brands, like the Nissan Altima or Chevy Malibu. A second-tier car from these brands will cost less than what you’ll pay for a Honda Accord or Toyota Camry. When constructing a list, check the prices and reviews for the specific car’s true market value.
Aside from being more convenient, buying from a local dealership helps sustain your local economy. Look for used cars for sale in your area, which are either being directly sold by the owner or from a car dealership. Buying direct, however, does not set any quality standards, so it is best to get it appraised by a third-party before buying from the owner. Also, see the car first before you negotiate on the asking price. Even if you get the price down, it won’t matter if it’s all messy under the hood or dashboard. If, after inspecting the car thoroughly, you are still interested in buying the car, the next step is to test drive it.
Test Driving the Car
Test driving a pre-owned car allows you to make a more informed decision if this is really the car for your lifestyle. During the test drive, simulate the environment of your regular driving patterns and routes, whether you’re driving late hours in highways or on rough terrains.
Walk Away If Necessary
Remember, there are thousands of other cars out there waiting to be driven. If you don’t like the car or even the car owner, simply walk away. Do not buy on impulse as this will prove to be costly in the long run. Avoid putting your emotions in the way of making sound financial decisions.
Get the Car’s History
Has it been involved in any criminal activities or accidents? Has it been remodeled aesthetically? Are all the parts from the original manufacturer? The web is again your friend when in need of these data. Most listings include the car’s history report, so researching it shouldn’t be a problem.
Buying a car in today’s economy can be very challenging. Adopting these frugal measures can make the purchase less of an impact on your finances and allow you to live life on the fast lane with your new car.