If you’re looking to save some cash – or if you’ve just realized that it’s silly to buy a new car that will immediately depreciate approximately ten percent the minute you drive it off the dealership lot, you’re probably leaning towards making your next “new” car a used car. Good for you! Buying used is almost always a wise decision – not only will you save a bundle of money right off the purchase price, but you may also wind up driving more car than you could actually technically afford if you were to buy new. So that fancy sound system and the panoramic sunroof you always dreamed about… yeah, in a new-to-you car, those dreams could actually become an affordable reality.
Of course, that’s not to say that buying used doesn’t come with its own set of concerns… after all, everyone knows the old saying “you get what you pay for.” However, there are a few precautions you can take to make sure that your not only investing in a safe, reliable vehicle but that you’re also working with a trustworthy, honest used car dealership. So before you run out to the nearest neon-sign touting “Cheap Used Cars Sold Here!!!!” take a minute to read on and find out what red flags you should be on the lookout for when deciding if your used car dealer is solid or shady.
Red Flag Number 1: The Sales People are Pushy
Really, this rule applies to pretty much all facets of life: if you are feeling uncomfortable and pushed into making a decision that you aren’t entirely confident in, it could be a sign that you should turn tail and head right back out the door. A good salesperson knows and respects that any car purchase – new or used – is a big investment, and they will work with you to make sure you are satisfied and excited to drive off the lot. If you find that your salesperson is avoiding answering your questions, giving you half-answers or making you feel as though your questions are ridiculous, do not feel pressured to buy from them. It’s almost a universal law of both new and used car sales that the sales team will try to tell you “if you don’t buy today, the car may be gone tomorrow/the price may have risen,” and while that may be true, you need to remember that there are always more used cars to pick from… and what use is buying a car you don’t love just because it might not be there tomorrow? Who knows, maybe the car of your dreams will show up on the lot overnight!
Trust your gut – if you think the sales team seems dodgy and just eager to make a quick sale, don’t feel obligated to stick around. There are plenty of honest and reputable dealerships and sales teams out there that will be more than happy to work with you to ensure your new-to-you car purchase is one that you feel secure making.
Red Flag Number 2: Lousy Inventory
Sure, you may be shopping for a used car, but that’s doesn’t mean you want to be driving around in a car that’s so beaten down you aren’t even sure it will make it around the block. If you arrive at your local used car dealership and see nothing but extremely poor quality cars, it is probably a red flag that you aren’t at a very high-quality used dealership. Don’t forget, a used-car is one that has been previously owned, even if just for a few years… or even just a few months. A good used-car dealership will offer a variety of pre-owned cars – and sure, some may be so old they are almost vintage, but there should also be some well-kept, newer model used cars to balance out the inventory. Walk the lot and if you think that the inventory looks as though it may all be one stop from the city dump, keep on walking right out the door.
Red Flag Number 3: Fast-and-Loose Finances
Okay, so this red flag is one you need to approach with caution and a degree of skepticism. It is important to keep in mind that not all dealership that offer financing options such as Buy Here Pay Here financing are inherently untrustworthy or sketchy. In fact, many reputable dealerships offer unique financing options simply to help people who may not otherwise be able to qualify for a traditional car loan. However, if your used car dealership is pushing you into a financing agreement that you don’t find agreeable or are uncomfortable with, simply leave.
Now, don’t get us wrong, sometimes Buy Here, Pay Here financing is a terrific option for those that have exhausted all other financing options. But before you go down that lane, you want to be absolutely sure that you don’t qualify for a more traditional auto loan. Even if your credit isn’t anything to brag about, plenty of banks, credit unions, and other lenders may be willing to work with you. Should you go the Buy Here, Pay Here route, you need to be absolutely clear on the terms of the agreement – down to what your APR is and what will happen if you are late or miss a payment.
In short: if you don’t understand the terms of your financing and the dealership isn’t being forthright with answering your questions – find another dealership to work with.
Don’t Be Scared to Shop Used
Now, don’t let the red-flags or stereotypes scare you off from shopping for a used car. Simply remember that if you start to feel uneasy or pushed into a sale that you aren’t completely satisfied with, all you have to do is leave. There are many reputable dealerships out there – don’t be afraid to ask your friends and family for recommendations and of course, you can always read online reviews to find a dealership that will always keep your best interest in mind.