This page is dedicated to frequently asked questions from you – the reader.
Besides the purchase price, you will need to have extra money aside for Taxes, Title & Registration Fees, Transfer Fees, Emissions Testing and/or State Inspection Fees, and Documentation/Administration Fees to process the car sale if you are buying from a dealer. If purchasing interstate, then you will need to consider Transportation Fees as well. And don’t forget to insure your vehicle as well.
If you are purchasing a used car outright then a Valid Driver’s License showing your current address and cold hard cash to negotiate with – or an online bank account to transfer funds on the spot. If you are financing and buying through a dealer however, then you will also need a Down Payment, Proof of Income, Proof of Guarantor (a person who acts as a guarantee that you will pay the loan off), and Proof of Residence if you’ve moved within the previous year and it is not listed on your license. If you have a used car to trade in, you will need to bring it to the dealership along with the Car Title, and the Payoff Quote & Payoff Lender if you still owe money. Some dealers have a Trade-In Appraisal Estimate form you can fill in beforehand so you have an idea of how much your used car will trade for.
This is the most important document for your car that identifies the cars make, model, year, vehicle identification number (VIN), color, which state it was first registered, the odometer reading, and the owner’s name and address. When buying a used car (especially from a third party private seller), double-check the information such as the vehicle identification number against the actual number on the car and by obtaining a vehicle history report. Check that there is a watermark present, and inspect the title’s issue date (if it’s relatively recent, it could be a forgery) and inspect for unclear or fuzzy printing in the document. The document should have crystal-clear printing.
Essential when shopping for a used car, a vehicle history report is a one-time report that provides detailed information about a vehicle including all past owners, any accident history (including any ‘Branded’ title, flood damage, airbag deployment, and hail damage), mileage accuracy, and maintenance records. It usually costs between $25 and $40, and you can get one through AutoCheck. These reports are not a comprehensive vehicle inspection, just the history and essential information.
A ‘lemon’ title is designated to a new or used car with a mechanical or structural problem that can’t be fixed. Each state in America has its own laws for vehicles experiencing issues. If you think your car may be a ‘lemon’, check your state’s laws on compensation and talk to the manufacturer or dealer to attempt to resolve the issue directly. If you are looking at a car to buy that has a ‘lemon’ title – steer clear!
Once you’ve looked the car over, test driving a used car is the next essential step in getting to know the car and its eccentricities. Remember to take your time – don’t feel rushed. Sit in the driver’s seat and adjust it to where you want it to be. Adjust the rear view mirror and check to see how much visibility there is out the rear window, and test the flexibility of the seatbelt. Adjust the steering wheel if need be, then start the car. Let it idle on the spot while you check for any warning lights and listen for any out-of-character noises. Check the side mirrors are correctly positioned and that all the electric windows work (including sunroof if there is one). Once you’re on the road check for shakes or noises in the steering by doing a u-turn, check for poor visibility by doing a reverse park, and do a hill start if there’s one about. Take it on the motorway to check performance and when parked test out all the technology features and gadgets.