How to buy a Used CarBuying a used car is exciting and can be overwhelming, but we have broken it down into a few simple steps to follow:
- Determine Your Budget – The first step in buying a used car is deciding your budget and sticking to it. It can be exciting once you start looking for cars, and you may quickly forget your expenses, so if you set your budget in advance, it can help you stay within your means.
- Research Your Options Online – Do your research before going to see any cars offered in person. You should have a general idea of the makes and models you would be interested in purchasing so do not waste your time and that of the seller looking at inappropriate vehicles. For example, if you have children or a growing family, a two-seater may not be in your immediate plans. Websites like Jamaica Auto Trader, Sopi Motors, or Ja Cars can provide many options.
- Talk to Your Bank or Otherwise Secure Financing – Decide how you will finance your car. Are you paying cash, or will you need to secure a loan? Talk to your bank in advance – this lets you know if you are approved or need to rework your budget. Do not forget about extra ongoing car expenses like car insurance, maintenance, and fuel. Also, beware of committing to onerous financing deals or terms – see our LinkedIn article on the impact of 100%, 10-year Car Loans here.
- Compare Dealerships and Individual Sellers – Decide if you will buy your car from a dealership or an individual seller. You may find a better deal with an individual, but they may not stand behind the vehicle as a dealership would.
- See the Vehicle in Person – Once you have found some cars within your budget that you like, arrange to see them in person and take a test drive. Look for any rust or body damage, interior issues, and engine or mechanical concerns. Take a more experienced driver or car owner with you if you are not confident you would recognize a damaged vehicle. Ask questions of the seller and be sure you are comfortable with the vehicle.
- Make a Deal and Drive Away in Your new-to-you Vehicle – If all is a go, negotiate with the seller, make your payment, and take possession of your new vehicle. Remember that the Motor Vehicles Insurance Act mandates that you have car insurance to drive on public roads, so be sure to satisfy the requirements of the act. So call your insurance agent to secure coverage so that you can transfer and licence your vehicle.
Key Things to Watch out forThere are some key things to watch out for when buying a used car.
- Bait and Switch Schemes – A seller may advertise one vehicle online but show you a different, less valuable vehicle in person. This is why you should always inspect the car in person thoroughly.
- Disreputable Sellers – Not every seller or dealership is honorable. Some may try to overcharge you, sell you a poorly maintained vehicle, or even sell you a car they know is malfunctioning. A dealership may offer more reliability than a private seller.
- Unexpected Price Increases – Be wary of schemes where the seller tries to increase the price or add charges for unnecessary things when negotiating the deal. Once the seller knows you want the car, they may charge you more than the agreed asking price.