Buying a used car can be a daunting process. While there are plenty of reputable dealers out there, unfortunately, there are too many that fit the smarmy stereotype. Fears of getting stuck with a money-draining lemon are understandable. Buying a new car is exciting, but expensive. As soon as you drive that baby off the lot, its value declines steadily. Buying a certified pre-owned (CPO)car can be happy medium. Those looking for used cars will have to spend a bit more but will have greater peace of mind, while those who were looking to buy new can get really close to it at a great price. If you are thinking about going this route, here is some helpful information to guide your purchase.
Research the Certification Program
CPO vehicle certifications are not identical across brands. Your first step involves narrowing down the cars you are interested in and then researching the programs for that manufacturer. Find out the maximum requirements as far as mileage and age of the vehicle are concerned. How extensive is the inspection process? What are the exact stipulations of the extended service warranty? Sites like Kelley Blue Book provide tools to help compare the different programs.
When shopping for your car, make sure everything is kosher. Confirm the certification is from the manufacturer and not just the dealership. Go over the extended service warranty to confirm exactly what is included. If you want more extensive coverage, you may need to pay extra.
Do Your Homework on Price
CPO vehicle prices, just like new or ‘’regular’’ used ones, are open to negotiation. It is easy to think that it is a special type of car that is immune from haggling. So, you have picked your cars, researched the certification program, and now it is time to get some data on the true value of the car. Many sites, such as Kelley Blue Book, Cars.com and NADA, have helpful tools that allow you to input various pieces of data and get an estimated value of the vehicle. The more you know about the value of the car, the more confident you will be in the negotiating process. Knowledge is power, and one of the main reasons that car salesmen have the upper hand, is most buyers are very uninformed about the vehicles they are looking to buy.
While on the subject of price, consider arranging third party financing through a bank, credit union or other lender. Take your best offer and bring it to the dealership asking if they can beat it. To avoid multiple dings on your credit report, shop around for these quotes close together, ideally within 30 days. This way, all the inquiries will count as one. These offers are typically valid for two months, giving you ample time to make your vehicle purchase.
Many in the know about shopping for a vehicle recommend getting price quotes through the internet. It shows you are a savvy consumer who is comparing dealerships and they are likely to roll out their best offers in the initial communications rather than playing games.
At the Dealership
At the dealership, there are several things you must do. Like it was mentioned earlier, confirm the program is the manufacturer program and not their own. Ask to see a copy of the certification checklist to ensure all aspects of the vehicle were inspected. Get records of the repair history and maintenance records. Find out about the return policy. If there is one, inquire about the timeframe to return the vehicle, under what conditions you can return the vehicle, and if the dealer will refund any costs, such as sales tax, license fees and registration fees.
Kelli Cooper is a freelance writer who enjoys blogging about all things auto; she recommends visiting Fitts Auto if you are searching for a vehicle in the Little Rock area.