10 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Buying a Used Car

10 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Buying a Used Car

Buying a car used definitely gets you the most bang for your buck.  But as opposed to buying new, there are more pitfalls that can derail you along the way.  Knowledge is power – so here are the 10 most common mistakes when buying a used car, and how to avoid them.


1. Getting Emotional or Impulsive

It’s easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of emotion when shopping for a used car.  It’s fun!  It’s interesting!  Why not get that convertible?  Back up! Before you even begin to look at any used cars, you should write down a list of exactly what you need, and maybe a few thing that would be nice to have.  Then stick with that list.  Don’t browse for trucks if you are looking for an SUV or a car.  Don’t opt for bonus features you don’t really need.  Don’t get that convertible!  Figure out what your top priorities are and save yourself a lot of time while you are at it.


2. Limiting Your Search

Don’t just stay local, and don’t just browse vehicles in person.  The internet enables you to expand your search to vehicles outside your area and makes “window shopping” a breeze.  Most dealerships display their inventories online, allowing you to browse a large number of vehicles very easily.  If you find a vehicle that seems interesting but isn’t close, we recommend calling the seller before making the trip to make sure the vehicle is still available.  Which leads us to the next common mistake...


3. Not Asking the Right Questions

You can save yourself a lot of time by asking the right questions up front, especially if your dealing with a private seller.  When it comes to the vehicle itself, how old is it?  How many miles does it have?  If the vehicle is rather old, how easy will it be in the future to replace all the various parts?  Is there any kind of support or warranty that is provided?  If you are purchasing the vehicle via a private sale, does the seller possess the title and necessary inspection paperwork?  Asking the right questions at the beginning can help you avoid exerting any further energy on cars that do not meet your basic criteria.


4. Focusing Too Much on Price

Whether you are focusing exclusively on the selling price or are hyper-focused only on what the monthly payments will be, focusing too much on price can be a big mistake.  Sometimes a vehicle is cheap for a reason!  As the saying goes, if it sounds too good to be true it probably is.  On the other hand, if your only concern now is getting a low monthly payment, then you may be paying too much in the longer term.  If you can afford a slightly higher payment to reduce the length of the loan, you should consider taking it. 


5. Blowing Your Budget

The best way to bust your budget is to not clearly understand what it is in the first place.  If you are paying cash, this is relatively simple matter, although the threat of emotional attachment still persists. But with financing it’s a bit more complex.  Free online payment calculators can assist you with determining the car loan you can really afford, with an estimate of the monthly payments to be expected.  It is important to know your upper price limit and stick within it.


6. Not Doing Your Homework

Are you in a rush to buy a car?  Slow down!  Even your need is immediate, buying a used car, when done properly, does require a fair amount of research.  You need to find out everything you can about the car before you plunk down any cash for it.  Do not assume anything about the car.  Doing your homework involves the following:

Researching the vehicle online

Understanding the features of the vehicle

Reading and understanding the vehicle’s car history report, even if you have to order it yourself. 


Be prepared to find out displeasing information that you were not expecting and proceed accordingly.  Don’t ignore the red flags!  Also don’t be shy about reaching out to some of the “experts” that you can find them in online auto forums, to ask for advice. 


7. Skipping the Test Drive

Take a test drive is important.  Again, do not be presumptive when buying a used car.  Physically inspect the vehicle, as best you can with your untrained eye, and then take it for a drive. Don’t play the radio; listen to the car.  Not only will the test drive tell you a lot about the condition of the vehicle but will allow you to clearly envision yourself owning the car.  Is this the right car for you?  The test drive will help you decide. 


A second pair of eyes and ears with you on the test drive may see or hear things that you might miss.  Even better, we recommend taking the vehicle to a mechanic.  Not only will the mechanic inspect the vehicle for any damages, but also will take it for another test drive. And if you ask, the seller might be willing to pay for the inspection.


8. Negotiating Poorly

Here’s where doing your homework comes in handy.  The more you know about the vehicle, the more formidable a negotiating partner you will make.  Detailed knowledge of the vehicle can help you to effectively agree to a fair price for both parties.  Also, whenever possible, we recommend starting negotiations over the phone or via email, rather than in person.  This may give you more control over the interaction, enabling you to display your knowledge, and hopefully resulting in getting a better deal. 


9. Not Knowing Your Financing Options

If you think that your only options for purchasing a vehicle are dealer-assisted financing or paying cash in full, you are mistaken.  Dealer-assisted financing is certainly convenient especially if paying in full is simply not an option.  But if you don’t have the cash, and you do have a good credit rating, you may want to check with your bank or credit union to compare interest rates.  However, if your credit history is not good, financing from a pre-owned auto dealership may be a very viable option.  And knowing what your financing options are before engaging in negotiations can be beneficial.


10. Not Transferring Ownership Properly

Do you know what your state DMV requires to title and register your vehicle?  The requirements can be onerous if it’s a private sale.  You may even be required to bring the seller of the vehicle to the DMV with you.  But buying from a reputable dealership will eliminate those issues, as they will handle all the required paperwork for you.


At Best Buy Imports, you can be sure of getting a reliable vehicle, with a financing plan that’s within your budget, regardless of your personal credit situation.  All of our vehicles have been completely serviced and went through our comprehensive 99-point certification and safety inspection.  And every car, truck, and SUV we sell comes with a limited warranty to give you confidence in your purchase.  Be sure to check our extensive inventory of late-model, low-mileage vehicles.


Understanding Your Vehicle’s Car History Report

Understanding Your Vehicle’s Car History Report


Car history reports provide a wealth of information for prospective purchasers of used vehicles, but they are not always easy to read or understand. Here we offer a rundown of what you need to know to accurately interpret your vehicle’s car history report.


Reality Check: First, make sure that the information in the report aligns with the actual description of the car. Is the model year correct? Sellers may have made an honest mistake, but there is the also a remote possibility that the data was purposefully altered to increase the valuation of the car. This is more of a possibility with an individual seller than with a used car dealership. It’s always wise to use your own eyes to verify, to the extent possible, what is in the report.


Past Ownership History: How many owners has the vehicle had? This is an important piece of information as cars with numerous owners are likely to have spottier, less accurate vehicle histories. In addition, it is more difficult to verify with certainty the maintenance history of the car, or which parts may need replacement soon. Perhaps the car has changed hands numerous times because of a recurring mechanical problem that is not immediately apparent during a test drive. With fewer prior owners, the quality and accuracy of the car history report is almost certain to be higher.


Vehicle Score: Services like AutoCheck, which is often used by the professionals, provide a vehicle score that ranges from 1-100 that indicates the relative value of the vehicle as compared with all used cars. In addition, the report will include a comparison score. The comparison score is important because it is the average score (50th percentile) received by other used vehicles of the same year and model. So even if the overall score seems low, if it is above the comparison score, then the vehicle is actually in the upper quartile for cars of that year and type. 


Full History Transcript: The section of the car history report that chronologically lists all (or, hopefully all) events in the vehicle’s history and can be loaded with information.  Here we will sort out the different types of information - some of it is routine and can be mostly ignored, while other events are cause for cautionary concern or even outright alarm.


Routine events in a car’s history typically include:

?      Vehicle manufactured and shipped to dealership: If this event was not recorded in the vehicle’s history, then the vehicle may have been imported from outside the U.S. or may be a rebuilt vehicle.

?      Title transfers: Title transfers record transferences of ownership.

?      Title corrections: Title corrections denote changes to information on the vehicle title.

?      Car financing history: If the vehicle was previously purchased or financed with a loan, lien, or lease, the event will be noted in the car’s history report.

?      Initial registration and registration renewals: Double check that the vehicle’s registration has been renewed annually throughout its history. A missing year of registration may denote that the vehicle was out of operation, perhaps due to an ongoing mechanical problem or unreported accident. If the vehicle is older, confirm that it has recently passed registration - you don’t want any surprises at the DMV when you take your new vehicle in for registration.

?      DMV odometer reading: Double check the requirements of your state to determine when the DMV collects odometer readings.  Odometer readings typically occur during title transfers but are not normally required for vehicles greater than ten years old.

?      Emissions inspections compliance: Where emissions inspections are mandatory, you’ll want to confirm that the vehicle has undergone and passed the emissions inspection as required by law.


Only seeing routine and common events in your vehicle’s history report? That’s great news!  However, if you also see any of the following events, extra caution or consideration is required. Such “cautionary events” typically include:

?      Former fleet or rental vehicle: Was the vehicle formerly part of a fleet of vehicles (perhaps owned by a business) or used as a rental car? This could be a boon, if the vehicle was on a regular maintenance schedule and well-cared for, or a detriment, if the vehicle was abused and poorly maintained.  Be cautious.

?      Previously repossessed: Has the vehicle been “repossessed in the past? If so, it means that the owner could not afford the payments, which may very well mean the vehicle has not been well maintained.


Most importantly, there are some “red flag” events that are crucial to recognize. If you see any of these events, you should probably strongly reconsider your purchase!

?      “Insurance Loss”: This is the official term for “totaled.” The car may have been stolen, and recovered much later, or was in a major accident. If a major accident occurred, the vehicle probably has a “salvage” or “rebuilt” title. Whether stolen (and likely abused) or salvaged and rebuilt, this is a risk you do not want to take!

?      Collision with another vehicle: If the vehicle has been in a collision, even a minor one, it will be included in the car history report.  This could be a red flag, if the collision was significant, or a relatively minor concern.  If you are risk-averse, best to steer clear of vehicles that have been in accidents.

?      Salvaged, rebuilt, or rebuildable: Any of these words are waving a massive red flag in your direction. A salvaged or rebuilt vehicle has been “totaled” and subsequently rebuilt. If the price seems “too good to be true,” this is why.

?      Failed emissions inspection: Did the vehicle recently fail an emissions inspection? If so, it may not be legal for the road, and could require thousands of dollars in additional repairs. If the vehicle failed an emissions inspection long ago, but has since passed follow-up inspections, then you have much less cause for concern.

?      Water damage or storm registration: If the vehicle has incurred water damage, perhaps in connection with a major storm or flood, the insurance company will record an insurance loss in the car history report. Beware of vehicles with water damage - you are sure to encounter electrical problems in the future.


Now you know what to look for in a car history report. At Best Buy Imports, every vehicle on our lot undergoes a complete inspection and comes with a 30-day Powertrain Warranty and a free AutoCheck History Report. Check out our large inventory of quality pre-owned vehicles. We offer Guaranteed Credit Approval and an auto financing process that is simple and straightforward.


We work with local and national lenders to provide you with the best financing options, such as low rates, short terms, and low down payments. So, stop in to one of our convenient Philadelphia locations today and let one of our experienced team members help you get the right vehicle with the best auto loan for your needs.


Rebuilding Your Credit With Best Buy Imports

It is estimated that up to one-third of the entire country has bad credit as a result of their debt. This means that most likely, one of your friends, a member of your family, or even you have bad or no credit. 

How We Can Help

At Best Buy Imports, we understand that even the most financially well-prepared people can run into tough situations and end up with bad credit. This is precisely why we want to help customers re-establish their credit with a purchase of one of our used cars for sale in Philadelphia, PA. With our “buy here, pay here” services, customers with bad or no credit can easily and conveniently purchase a vehicle from either of our fully-stocked Philadelphia locations. Buying a car from us makes sense because we can help you re-establish and build your credit with consistent, on-time loan payments.

Easy And Convenient Loan Repayment

We make it simple and hassle-free to repay your car loan with our “pay here” services at Best Buy Imports. Simply stop in and drop off your regularly scheduled payment and rebuild your credit.

In some cases, in as little as six months, a history of timely and consistent car payments can begin to show progress in your credit score. This can quickly accumulate, and soon you could be enjoying an improved credit score and all the opportunities it provides. 

A Stress-Free Shopping Experience

At Best Buy Imports, we offer an unrivaled selection of over two dozen makes of cars featuring scores of styles, types, and models. We can make the process of rebuilding your credit with a vehicle purchase fun and exciting with our enthusiastic and motivated sales staff. They’re highly knowledgeable about all of our automobiles, so you can be sure to get the perfect car to fit your needs and uses. 

At Best Buy Imports, we provide high-quality used cars for sale in Philadelphia and are proud to offer our customers an opportunity to re-establish and build their credit. To speak with a sales representative, call us at 215-309-8830 or stop into either of our convenient locations today!

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