Three Must-Have Tools For Buying A Used Car

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Owning a car is awesome. The process of buying one, on the other hand, can be a challenging and frustrating ordeal. However, here are a few tools you can take with while shopping for a used car that will make it easier to pick a winner and ensure you get a good deal on the vehicle.

Car Value App

Negotiating a good price on a vehicle requires you to have an understanding of how much the vehicle is worth. If you're like most people, though, you probably don't know how to properly evaluate the market value of a used car. One helpful tool that can give you an edge in negotiations is a car valuation app that uses information from trusted industry sources to provide a reasonable estimate of a particular vehicle's value.

The two most well-known companies in this area both have apps you can download to your smartphone. Each of these apps lets you look up a particular make and model car and give you the market value based on its condition. These apps can help you save time by providing you with a starting point for negotiations with a salesperson right there on the lot (as opposed to having to go home to do the research).

Both apps also connect you to car reviews by people who currently own similar vehicles, which can provide additional helpful information such as the car's reliability and how well it drives. These reviews can help you avoid purchasing a vehicle that may be more trouble to own than it's worth.

Vehicle History Report App

Another mobile app to have with you when you're car shopping is one that provides a detailed report of the car's history. These apps use the vehicle identification number (VIN) to obtain critical information about the car such as its title history, reported accidents, outstanding liens, and even maintenance and repairs performed on the vehicle (e.g. oil changes).

Most car dealerships disclose all relevant details about vehicles upfront so you have the information you need to make a good decision. However, the same can't be said if you're purchasing the car from a private owner. Additionally, having access to the vehicle report can help you confirm what the salesperson says for your own piece of mind.

Be aware that, though many of these vehicle report apps are free, there may be a charge for each car history report you request. Therefore, you may only want to use this tool on cars you're seriously considering purchasing.

Mechanical Checklist

Dealerships typically inspect and repair used vehicles before putting them on the lot. Still, it's a good idea to have the car inspected by an independent mechanic before you purchase it. A mechanic can let you know about any current or potential issues with the vehicle, which can help better prepare you for ownership and/or provide some leverage during negotiations.

Unfortunately, unless you have a mechanic friend who will happily spend all day car shopping with you, having an independent mechanic look at the vehicle before you buy it isn't always a feasible option. One thing that can help you in this area is an inspection checklist.

These forms feature a list of things to check when inspecting the vehicle. For example, there will typically be a section about what to look for when examining the engine. Even if you don't know a thing about cars, using an inspection checklist can help you eliminate vehicles that have obvious problems.

Once you have selected a vehicle to purchase, inquire about the dealership's return policy. If you're allowed to return the vehicle with a certain period of time, take the car to be looked over by a mechanic and be prepared to exchange the vehicle for something else if expensive problems are found.

For more information about helpful car shopping tools or assistance with buying your next used car, connect with a dealership in your area or a site like