What Students Need To Know About Buying a Used Car

What Students Need To Know About Buying a Used Car
  • Opening Intro -

    Buying a car is one of the first significant purchases that people make when growing up.

    To ensure you make an informed choice, read this guide to what students need to know about buying a used car.

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Buying a car is one of the first significant purchases that people make when growing up. To ensure you make an informed choice, read this guide to what students need to know about buying a used car.

Get Real About Your Budget

Figure out what you can afford right now without draining your savings. You’ll want a safety net for unexpected repairs.

If you’re financing, factor in all monthly expenses, such as estimated gas usage, car insurance, title and registration, and residential or university parking permits. Be aware of any upcoming costs as well, including windshield wipers, air filters, oil changes, fluid top-offs, and tire changes or repairs.

Make a List of Needs and Wants

It’s okay to find something that fits your dream list, as long as all your other needs are taken care of. You may want an all-wheel-drive vehicle for the snow, but splurging on a Subaru WRX probably exceeds all expectations.

Figure out what make, model, trim, and years fit your criteria. You may discover that there are other options out there that provide what you need at a lower price. For example, if you need to flatten the back seats in order to fit a dog crate, you may want to consider a hatchback option instead of getting an SUV.

Set Up Alerts and Saved Searches on Car Websites

Utilize websites like Carvana, Autotrader, and CarMax to shop around in your area. You might even find better deals in surrounding towns or where your parents live if you moved away.

Get a feel for what sells for what price in different areas. You can use this information to haggle down higher prices or know when to move fast on great deals when buying a used pickup.

Bring a Car-Savvy Person With You During the Test Drive

Bring a family member or friend to the test drive who can spot car problems right away. Don’t let the salesperson excite you into buying something you haven’t thought through all the way.

While on the test drive, push the car to its limits. This isn’t the time to drive like you’re on your best behavior. It’s an opportunity to test if the vehicle can handle things like:

  • Braking and accelerating quickly
  • Going over speed bumps and railroad tracks
  • Driving at all speeds or with all gears
  • Turning smoothly in both directions

One of the most important things that students need to know about buying a used car is that you can use the test drive as an opportunity to get a “used car inspection.” These are usually around $75 to $100 and include an inspection of everything under the hood, between the wheels, and more. I did this once on a car I fell in love with, only to learn that the six-year-old beauty wouldn’t have passed inspections!

Finally, you also need to be able to walk away. We get it—you fell in love with this car. We’ve all been there! There are a zillion other cars out there for you.

You have the power of choice here. If something doesn’t seem right, let it go. There will be more opportunities that pop up. Just keep checking your car alerts from the websites above, and you’ll find something in no time!

image credit: Adobe Stock

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Categories: Campus Cars

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