Used cars are complicated. There are so many little things to check before you can finalize which ones are worthy. And then comes the part where you have to figure out a good price for it. The best way to get a great deal means taking the right steps before you even make an offer. Here’s what you should do.

Used Car Listings

First, figure out your budget and then start looking online for listings. Start by checking out new cars and test-driving them to figure out your preferred type. Once you decide on a particular model, comb through listings to see if you can find something similar that’s a few years old. You may need to search through several listings to find something that meets your needs.

History and Condition

Always verify a car’s history and condition. This is also what used car dealers do. Call for a vehicle history report on the vehicle. It will have details like major accidents, salvage title, reconstruction details if the car is stolen, and its maintenance history. Examining the report will let you know whether you should continue looking at the car or move on. If interested, use any issues in the report to lower the price. Before making an offer, remember to get the car inspected by a certified mechanic. Most auto repair shops can give you a comprehensive inspection report for $100-$150. Check if you can get AAA or CAA discounts for the inspections. Spending this amount now can save you a lot of heartbreak and money in the future.


The seller’s price is a starting point for negotiations. Use online tools to search for similar models and find a comparable option at a lower price. Carry printouts of these to your negotiation in case the seller is asking for too much.


Start by ensuring your credit report is accurate and get preapproved for a loan. Let the finance manager at the dealership try and beat that rate. Be open that you’re looking for better options.


Carry all reports and comparable listing examples to the negotiation. Use these to finalize a fair price for the car. And then complete all paperwork carefully.