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8 Mistakes to Avoid When Buying a Used Car

GUEST POST BY: David, author of

Many of us cannot afford the luxury of the purchase of a brand new car. The solution to the problem is to purchase a second-hand vehicle that is reliable. There are many things to consider when purchasing a new car especially since you don’t want to spend as much as a new one. If you think it would be easier to get a brand new one than go through the hassle, think again. Opting for a used car is not as bad as you think.          

I would like to share some guidelines to help you shop for a used car. I assure you that if you avoid these mistakes, you’ll make sure to get the best bargain. Here are some mistakes to avoid when buying a used car for yourself or your family:

Mistake # 1: Not Doing Your Homework      

“What am I looking for?” That should be the first question in your mind.

Make a list of your preferred car models. From this list, think of the specifications and the accessories that you need. After coming up with a list, try comparing the models on or check pricing and specifications at This list will help you narrow down your choices. 

When you have trimmed down your options, check for nearby dealers or classified ads for used car sales. Compare the advertised pricing against brand new cars.

Mistake # 2: Going Over Your Budget

How much are you willing to shell out? The main reason why you are opting for a used car is low budget. Set a limit to how much you are willing to spend. Most car owners advertise the ceiling price but are willing to negotiate. Consider the overall price of the car: gas expenses, maintenance expenses, insurance, and taxes. Don’t focus on the monthly payments because they are just a fraction of the expenditures. Keep in mind that used cars may need additional maintenance than brand new cars, so make sure you have a realistic budget.

Mistake # 3: Choosing a Car for the Wrong Reasons          

“Why do I need a car?”

Think of what you need the car for. Do you need it to bring your family to out-of-town trips? If so, a classy sports car would not be put to good use. Pick a car that suits you and your family’s needs. Of course, you can also choose a car that suits your personality, but that should come in second. Purchase a car because it is a necessity not just an added luxury.

Mistake # 4: Not Worrying About the Paperwork      

Never forget the paperwork. Make sure to obtain a transfer certificate; you don’t want to be accused of stealing the car. Service history receipts and warranty helps you keep track of the maintenance and parts. This paper trail will save you from added expenses in case of repairs. Don’t forget car insurance, too! Car insurance protects you and other people from liabilities due to accidents.

Mistake # 5: Failing to Check Vehicle’s History      

How reliable and safe is the car? As soon as you have a vehicle that you plan to purchase, get the vehicle identification number (VIN) or license plate number. The VIN is useful detail in car inspection. You can check for the service history, ownership, and traffic violations (if any). You don’t want to purchase a car that hasn’t been well-taken care of or has been involved in numerous accidents or violations, do you?

Mistake # 6: Failing to Communicate with the Seller

Communicate with the seller if you want to get valuable information about the car and get a good bargain. If the seller does not trust you, he or she may not allow a car inspection. Establishing a good relationship with the seller helps you and the seller trust each other. Once you make a deal, there is no turning back. A good relationship with the dealer helps you communicate even after the car has been sold in case problems arise. It also helps you find out about the vehicle’s history and why it’s put up for sale.

When bargaining with the seller, don’t be too stingy. The car may have practical extras that are worth purchasing. The car may also have been well maintained and is an excellent bargain.

Mistake # 7: Falling in Love with the Car     

Make a thorough car inspection before driving away. Don’t make the deal just because you love the color or the flashy mag wheels. Check the interior if it has been kept clean. Inspect the paint job and underneath the car. Look under the hood and check the engine. Watch out for signs of rust and corrosion. If you’re not sure of what to look for, bring a trusted mechanic or a car expert to go with you.

Don’t choose the car just because of the added extras. You should decide if the accessories are necessary for you and worth buying.

Mistake # 8: Not Doing a Test Drive

How comfy is the car and how easy is it to drive? Remember, you will be the new owner of the car. You can’t give it back just because you feel uncomfortable driving it. Test driving the car is a subtle way to do a car inspection. A test drive will help you check the air conditioning and sound system. It also gives you a feel of the engine and how smooth it will be. Well-maintained cars run smoothly and don’t have any problems starting up even when they haven’t been used for a long time.  

A test drive will also allow you to look at the mileage. Don’t be afraid of purchasing high mileage cars. The good thing about it is that they have been tried and tested. A test drive will also help you get a feel of the fuel consumption.


Purchasing a car can be both an exhilarating and stressful experience depending on how well you prepare for it.  There are many factors to consider such as specifications and costs. Avoiding the mistakes mentioned above will serve as a guide so you can get the best value for your money and avoid any regrets. You don’t want to end up with more headaches, right?

What do you think? Do you have additional tips for car buyers? I hope that you have learned a lot from the article. You may also share your experiences with us. We’d also appreciate any feedback and suggestions from you. Don’t forget to share this article! You never know who needs help in purchasing a car.

About the author: David has 11 years of experience as an auto mechanic; everything he shares is based on his extensive knowledge. Please visit his blog here

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  • Reply Mystery Money Man

    Great post, so much good advice here. He addresses a lot of things you need to be careful when buying a used car, but if you do it right, it’s the best way to go, IMO. When I bought my first car, many years ago, I made some key mistakes and it didn’t work out that great, to put it mildly, but I’ve had better luck since!

    August 4, 2017 at 4:45 pm
    • Reply msrob0t

      Same here! I wish I would have purchased my first cars differently but now I am better prepared 🙂

      August 9, 2017 at 1:05 pm
  • Reply msrob0t

    Same here! I wish I would have purchased my first cars differently but now I am better prepared 🙂

    August 9, 2017 at 1:05 pm
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