Buying a used car is not quite an easy task. There’s so much factors you need to check in order to make a good purchase. Was the car stolen, was the mileage clocked, has it been regularly maintained and ton of other questions, all coming through our minds. We’ve asked our friend Sam, well known dealer about some tips on how he knows what car is a good purchase and we are showing them to you in the following post.

Sam, 42 – owner of few dealerships for 21 year already


VI: Hi Sam, thanks for your time. So people want to know how exactly to spot good purchase, what details they should pay attention to, and how not to overpay?

Sam: Yeah, totally understandable. Well, first let me introduce myself. I’m Sam, I’ve been working as a dealer for 21 years already and I can truly spot a good purchase. People often asks me what I should do but I say them first thing first– beside concentrating what should you do right, check out what you shouldn’t do wrong.

VI: We’re all ears 😊

Sam: First – Don’t focus too much on the price!   Totally understandable, our main focus is on the price, because it has the biggest impact on buying car. However, it’s not the only factor we should take in our calculation.  More importantly think about did you make a good deal for that model and year? Will the car satisfy your needs, and are you buying more than you can afford? If you have to finance the car, is that leather truly needed?!

Second – Don’t ignore the financing terms, it’s such an important factor! People will often time spend hours trying to lower the price by $500, but in the end paying $2000 as cost of the loan.  Instead of trying to lower the price, try arranging a better financing term. Let us give you an example:

Lastly – Don’t set the expectations too high. Due to irregular purchase, when comes to buying car we put pressure on ourselves that everything needs to be perfect. And it’s completely normal according to psychologists. In order to increase your happiness, lower your expectations a bit.  Instead of looking for perfect purchase, make your goal like this – buy good car for good money. It’s that simple

VI: Wise words from a wise man. Now when we sorted out what you shouldn’t do, let’s focus on what you should do!

Sam: Of course. What I like to do and train my employees to do as well is – Do your research first!
Before you go to check on car, make sure you know some basic information about that make. What are the price ranges it’s being sold on other places, check web reviews on it, and check if there’s any alternate vehicle which suits your needs same as desired one. As someone said once – Information is the king. Make sure you know the week spot of the vehicles you’re interested in. Once you’re going to inspect it, make sure to check those spots also. I’ll tell you later how to accurately check all data of a single vehicle – later in the text
Second – get yourself a VIN report
Maybe the most important, yet, the easiest way to spot a good car as well as remove bad ones. Once you’re settled for few cars you want to test drive, it would be a smart decision to run report on it. Not only it will save your time, it will save you money as well, because by identifying bad vehicles, you won’t make the wrong purchase. VIN report will show you whether the car was in an accident (and 52% were), how many owners have it got, was it regularly maintained, was it stolen, and ton of other test. You don’t need any mechanical knowledge, yet you’ll be able to clearly identify both good and bad opportunities.
There’s lot of reports on the market, but VINInsights is the best in terms of quality of data base, accuracy, data they provide and price, since it’s $25 ($25 cheaper then main competitors) However, if you’re interested in let’s say 10 vehicles, VIN report for all of those would be $250, so it would be a smart decision to narrow down your choice to 2-3 vehicles and then order a VIN report.
Let me tell you how to narrow your search down!
Keep your emotions in checkA car is not (or at least shouldn’t be) an impulse purchase. In order to avoid emotional impact, split decisions by dayTest drive it one day. Figure out the financing in the other.  Choose the favorite seller on another one. And so on.
Seller will often time make you feel like the deal they’re offering to you is scares. Don’t fall for that. Remember this – your money, your call. You’re the boss, and you can walk away anytime. You set the conditions and seller can agree or disagree, but final call is yours. And only yours. Later – Set your budgetUnless you’re paying in cash (good for you then) you need to figure out lease and financing.
First – how much can you afford to pay each month? The general rule is that your monthly new-car payment should not exceed 15 percent of your monthly take-home pay. If you’re looking to lease, aim for a monthly payment that’s less than 10 percent of your take-home pay. You’ll also want to factor in an additional 7 percent of your monthly income to cover fuel and insurance costs. Knowing your budget beforehand will help you when negotiating your next car or truck.
Next thing you would like to do is set up a test drive. You’ve found car you like, it fits your budget, and you would like to buy it. Great, you’re half way done purchasing your new car.  Make sure you make an appointment, so your sure car will wait for you when you arrive. Unofficial rule is to test drive at least 3 vehicles before making a decision. That way, you’ll avoid impulse reaction (check tip #2)

VI: And what should we look for in test drive?

Sam: First and most important rule – drive it the way you usually drive. If you are easy on the pedal, that’s how you should drive it in test drive. And the other way around. If you commute, try driving the car in both stop-and-go traffic and at highway speeds. If you trek to the mountains, see if you can find some nearby steep hills to climb. Drive over bumps, take tight corners, and test the brakes in a safe location. Get in and out of the car several times and be sure to sit in the back seat, especially if you plan on carrying passengers. Check out the cargo space. If you plan on using children’s car seats, bring yours along to test for fit and ease of installation. Take pictures of the cars so you can reference them later. Turn off the stereo so you can listen to the sound of the engine. You can evaluate the sound system when you return to the dealership. If the conversation does turn to questions about whether you’d like to talk about purchasing or leasing, you can say that you’re still in the test-drive stage.
Of course – Be prepared to walk away. If things are not going the way you would like to, be prepared to say NO. It will save you both time, energy and money. 
Better to walk away than to buy something you’re not quite sure about it and regret later on.  Good salesman will always respect your right to deny an offer.

Now you get VIN report. Hopefully you’ve tested at lest 3 vehicles, you’re interested in them and now want to make final step toward purchasing a perfect car. Type in VIN number (you can find it here) and search for a vehicle history. Things you want pay attention to are if the car was in some accidents, how many owner has it got, and odometer readings. One car will stood up among others based on those metric. Congratulations! You’ve found yourself quite a car!

VI: Wow, that was filled with golden nuggets! Thanks a lot for your help Sam, it’s no wonder you have such successful dealership

Sam: No problem, it was a pleasure

We truly hope we helped you at least a bit in your next car purchase. Apply those tips, value yourself and your time and we’re sure you’ll make the right call.

Happy shopping!