While some things are best purchased new – for instance, toilet paper comes to mind – other things can justifiably be purchased used. One of the best things you can buy used? A car. Did you know that a car’s retail value plummets a shocking 9 percent in the mere moment it took you to drive it off the lot? Ouch!

In fact, in the first few years that you own your car, it’ll only continue to drop in value. By the time your four-wheeled baby is five years old, it’ll be worth a scant 40 percent of its original value. And you know what’s funny about that? Cars these days are actually built to last, so buying a used car isn’t just an economically wise decision, it’s just smart all-around.

Of course, there are a few tricks to purchasing a used car. There are a lot of shady dealers out there that are just itching to trick you into buying a lemon. Of course, lemons are round and pungent and yellow colored, so many people can tell them apart from a vehicle at a glance. But mistakes have happened.

All joking aside, if you’re looking to purchase a used car in the near future, then here are a few tips to help you choose the best one for yourself.


Thoroughly Examine the Car


Before you fall head over heels in love with a used car, you first need to give it a careful once-over. Walk around the car slowly and check for any blemishes or rust. Examine the panels to make sure they are properly aligned, and search for any signs of uneven paint. These can indicate that the car had been in a serious fender bender in the past. Also make sure you check the interior of the car, too. Use your nose and check for musty odors. These could point to mold, which may indicate that the car has a leak or has sustained serious water damage in the past.


Check the Kelley Blue Book


There are many factors that can determine a car’s value. For instance, cosmetic blemishes can decrease its value. Having excessively high mileage can also deal a serious blow to its worth. Before you make an offer, be sure to cross-reference it with Blue Book pricing. That way you can be confident that you’re getting a good price on it.


Check Black Book Auction Prices


If you want to sound like a professional when dealing with the salesman, it's a good idea to check up-to-date black book auction prices. While KBB gives you a good baseline for MAXIMUM sale price (don't ever agree to maximum sale price), Black Book gives you an idea of what the dealer probably bought the car for at auction, or what they could get for it at auction. This gives you the minimum price you'd be lucky to get the car for on a purchase, so don't be totally unreasonable. Also, if you're trading in your own car, this would around the price you'd want to get them to value your trade-in. That way, you know if the dealer or private seller is totally hosing you.


Get an Accident Report


Many dealerships offer accident reports as a courtesy, but others may not be so eager to give that information up. Private sellers may not volunteer it, either. Even if your visual inspection of the car didn’t reveal any major crashes in the past, the car may have a – shall we say – sordid history. You’ll also want to run the car’s VIN to make sure that there haven’t been any recalls on it, or that nobody is trying to pull an ole switcharoo on you when selling it to you.


Give it a Joy Ride


Before you sign any papers or hand over any cash, you’ll also want to give the car a test run. Don’t just circle the block, either; you’ll want to see how it operates at higher speeds, or if it’s at risk of stalling at red lights. These are all very serious considerations when looking to purchase a used car! It’ll also give you a chance to get a feel for it to make sure it’s a good fit for you. If you’re coming from a huge truck and the car is this teeny little hybrid, you just don’t to find out later that you hate it when you find yourself putt-putting around your neighborhood in it. Pay attention for strange smells (coolant, oil) and make sure you run it for more than just five minutes. Put it through its paces.

Buying a used car doesn’t have to be a stressful decision. Whether you’re looking to purchase one now, or you’re considering getting on in the near future, you want to make sure you’re being prudent about getting the right one for yourself.

And if life does try to hand you a lemon, then you make yourself lemonade, you silly goose. Or lemon meringue pie. Yum. But you don’t try to drive it! Why? Because you’re smart, and you did your research before you bought your car so you wouldn’t get scammed, and your neighbor has a really neat lemon tree and keeps leaving them on your porch at night. That’s why!


If you buy a car from a private seller, you'll need help with your registration and title information. For help with lost titles, title transfers, and car registration, contact your Pompano Beach auto tag agency at (954)848-4808.

Photo credit: Yatta RX