A Basic Guide to Buying a Used car

Most potential car buyers would consider getting a used car, despite the fact that it’s relatively easy to get a car loan in Singapore. Especially when you compare the process of getting a car loan in countries like America or the United Kingdom. First time car buyers usually don’t have enough money to buy a brand new car, but they need a vehicle. So the compromise is to get a used car.

While this option is quite common, it still requires a thorough consideration. Owning a used car has a number of repercussions, make sure you’re prepared for them.

The circumstances

Remember that even with a car loan, buying a used car is more than just purchasing it based on its price tag. Because it was already used, it will have some problems. When getting a car loan, try to consider getting additional money for repairs, if possible.  More than the cost of buying the car, there’s also the cost of owning the car. Petrol costs, regular checkups, necessary additional parts — these are only some of the things you will have to spend for later on, occasionally and regularly.

If you’re certain that you can afford the car, and that you can get your car loan approved, it’s time to choose a used car.

Before you go shopping for a vehicle, it is important to know what car you intend to buy — in terms of the type of vehicle and the price. Set a budget when you’re looking for a car but be prepared to spend a bit more than what you planned. This way, you’ll be able to consider the best used car in the market without taking for granted the better, much cheaper deals.

Consider the used car

With a budget in mind, you can now look for a used car to buy. Remember that most banks and financial institutions require the borrowers to include in their car loan application the car they want to purchase. This is true with most loans, including a home loan or a refinancing loan. It is advisable to purchase a used car from a reputable seller that can offer a reasonable warranty.

But the bigger concern is assessing the used car. This step should be done in two different manners: checking the physical aspect of the car and checking the specifications of the car.

For the physical aspect of the used car, you’ll need to look at the car personally so you can have a test drive. Even with the proliferation of websites selling used cars, buying a used car without even seeing it is not advisable. It is highly risky. Even with a thorough physical assessment, it’s not possible to know for sure the exact condition of the used car.

Check the used car for any physical deformities. Dents, rusts, discolorations—these signs indicate the general condition of a used car. Although their absence do not immediately mean that the car is in top condition. Always make sure that you check the used car during the day.  Never view a used car at night or when it is raining, as this can affect visibility. Check if the used car’s tires are aligned, if there are oil leaks, and if the panel gaps are equal. Make sure the car’s seatbelts are working properly.

When test driving, always start the car’s engine cold. If the used car was already warmed up before you drive it, it’s possible that the seller is hiding defects. Listen carefully while you drive. Are there any screeches and other unusual sounds coming from the car? Make sure the handbrake is working.

Most importantly: if you can, drive the used car in a number of road types. This will give you an idea how the used car will drive in usual scenarios. You will want to make the most out of your car loan, after all.

Questioning the owner

There are certain things that you won’t be able to get even after driving the used car. This is why you need to interview the previous owner of the vehicle you’re planning to buy. But what are the things you should ask?

First, always ask the seller why he is selling the vehicle. Any answer is a good answer — and it’ll give you a good idea on what the general condition of the car is. You’ll get a range of possible answers, from the seller who bought or will buy a new car — which is the best answer, since this means the seller will want to sell the used car immediately and might be forced to give you substantial discounts, to “the car consumes too much gas” — not the best answer, but at least you know what you’re getting yourself into. Then, ask when the car was first bought, where it was bought, and what the general condition of the car is.

Many materials online give the impression that it’s ok to interview the seller before you test drive the used car. However, it’s actually best to do the interview after testing the used car. This way, the questions you will ask will turn out to be verifications rather than the first information you’ll get about the car. When testing driving the used car, take note of certain things you noticed and ask the owner about it.

Be thorough when checking the used car. If you need to check the car’s history more professionally, do so.  This is necessary if you want to find out if the used car has ever been involved in an accident before. The objective is to get your money’s worth. Lastly, remember that you can haggle. Never be afraid to ask for a price that you think is the best value for the car you’ll buy. 

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