What to Consider When Buying a Used Car

buying a used car

Tips for Buying a Used Car

Buying a used car can come with many questions. How much can you afford? Is the car in good shape? How do you finance a used car? Is it better to buy a used car from a private party or a dealership? Here are a few things you should consider when buying a used car.

When Buying a Used Car, Crunch the Numbers

If you’re paying with cash, you already have a budget in place. If you’re taking out an auto loan, get pre-approval from your credit union before visiting the dealership. If you’re not sure how much you can afford, use our auto loan calculator to determine a reasonable monthly payment.

Do Your Research

With so many used vehicles for sale it can make the car-buying process seem overwhelming. Create a list with your top three or four car models to make it easier to find the best vehicle for you.

Once you have it narrowed down, look for listings of your choice. Check out websites like Edmunds.com to find used vehicles for sale in your area or stop by a local dealer like AutoTrek who partners with Colorado credit unions. Make a list of any features that you know you want your vehicle to have. Below is an example of what you might put on your list.

  • How many miles does the vehicle have
  • What year is the vehicle
  • Does the vehicle still have a warranty
  • Does it have leather or cloth seats and are they heated
  • Does it have Bluetooth for music or to talk on the phone
  •  Or any other options you’d want in your vehicle.

Most importantly, don’t forget to obtain a vehicle history report from sites like Carfax.com or AutoCheck.com. This will show you of any damage reported on the vehicle and a full history report from when it was built.

Test Drive and Inspect the Car

If you’re buying a used car from a private party instead of a dealership, you’ll want to take extra precautions. Meet the seller in a public place during the day just to be safe. You can also ask if there is any existing warranty that can be transferred to you.

Whether you’re buying from a dealer or private party, you’ll definitely want to take the vehicle for a test drive. Pay attention to the acceleration, legroom and visibility of the car. Make sure to test all features that attracted you to select this car. It’s also a good idea to take the car to a private mechanic of your choice for a professional inspection to make sure the car is in good shape and won’t need costly repairs in the near future.

Make it Official

When you’re ready to buy, make an opening offer based on what you have determined the average price for the car to be. If you’re buying from a dealership be sure to read the agreement carefully before signing. They can be lengthy, but you should walk away knowing the full loan amount, your new monthly payment, when your first payment is due and any additional fees that may have been added to the purchase agreement.

If you’re buying from a private party, you’ll want to run your own CarFax report to make sure you have an accurate vehicle history. You’ll also need a bill of sale which documents the terms of the sale in writing. The seller will also need to sign over the car title, you’ll want to make sure the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) on the title matches the VIN number on the car.  When completing a private party sale, it’s best to pay with a cashier’s check so you can keep record of the payment.

If you’re in the market to buy a used car, call Partner Colorado Credit Union and we can help get your started. Plus, for a limited time, when you get a Partner Colorado auto loan, you can skip 90 days of auto loan payments.¹ 



¹Offer and rates subject to change without notice. All applicants subject to credit and income verification. Ninety-day payment deferral is available to qualified borrowers for auto loans approved through standard lending guidelines (without exceptions). Regular finance charges continue to accrue during the deferred payment period. Offer valid on auto loans funded between 01/01/20-03/31/20.