| Kidney Cars

The Best Process for Buying a Used Car

September 27, 2018, 10:57am EDT

Purchasing a used car often feels risky. There’s a chance that it will end up being a money pit or that your investment will not pay off. There are very specific steps in the process of buying a used car that can help you get the most for your money.


Think of this process as a step-by-step system that when followed, will ensure that you never again overpay for a used car again. It may require a bit of homework, but in the end you will be rewarded.


1. Set Your Budget and Keep It Firm

Going outside your budget is a surefire way to regret your purchase later on. So before you even begin, set your top dollar limit and stick to it regardless of what vehicles come your way. Remember that at any given point, there really are hundreds, if not thousands of cars within your budget that you could purchase. Avoid the thought that you will never find a better opportunity. Patience can bring great rewards.


2. Research the Cars Model

When you have a car you are interested in, do your homework well. The more you know about that specific car, the more power you have in negotiating the purchase. Dig deep into the various models of that car manufacturer and figure out the common issues they might have, especially with that particular model. Utilize the information online, including forums and communities related to that car model. Do not make an offer until you have done your homework on the car.


3. Obtain a Vehicle History Report

There are several websites that offer vehicle history reports using the VIN number of the car. This report can be priceless when is comes to getting information about the cars title history, previous wrecks, odometer readings, previous owner information, service history, open recalls, and other information that the seller may not disclose. This can help you avoid purchasing a used vehicle that has a lot of unforseen problems.


4. Always Get the Price First

When you get in contact with the seller of the car, be sure to get their asking price right up front. This helps you create a baseline for negotiating when the time comes. It also lets you know the amount of money they are seeking. Do not worry about them saying the price is firm or that it’s their bottom dollar. These are like code-words for their desire that you will not try to negotiate.


5. Get Your Mechanic to Look at it

Take the car to your own mechanic to inspect it thoroughly. This won’t guarantee that the car is in prime condition, but it can definitely rule out major issues. If your mechanic certifies it to be in good shape and the vehicle history report comes back clean, then you can consider moving forward in making an offer.


6. Ask for Service Records

Before you make an offer, ask the seller for the repair and service records of the vehicle. While this step is not automatically a deal breaker, it can absolutely play into your negotiations. A well-maintained vehicle with all the service records to back it up will hold a much better value than a vehicle with no service records. If the seller does not have service records yet the car still checks out good, you can utilize the lack of service records as a bargaining chip in your favor when you negotiate a price.


7. Offer an Amount Allowing for Wiggle Room

After you’ve completed your homework and have the green light from your mechanic, you can go ahead and make an offer. Always give yourself a good amount of space to negotiate by offering a price well below the amount being asked. This is wise because most sellers are willing to go lower but are not likely to accept your first offer. Offer very low to begin with so you have room to work your way up from there without going over your set budget.


Buying a used car can save you a lot of money. You can avoid buyers remorse by following this step-by-step process and you will get a car purchase that you can be happy about.


When you are ready to donate your old car to charity, Kidney Cars has car donation pickup for free. Your old car can help the National Kidney Foundation give a better life to someone with kidney disease.


  • Help improve lives and donate your vehicle today.

  • We accept vehicles even if they no longer are running, as long as they have a title.

  • There is no cost to you, simply call us at 800.488.CARS (2277) or complete our online form.

  • Then schedule a pick up time that fits your schedule. You can make a difference in the lives of millions with kidney disease.