Category Archives: Buying a Used Car

Advantages of Trading in Your Car

Should I Trade in My Car?

The majority of drivers who purchase a car or truck usually own another vehicle that they would like to dispose of. They’re faced with an important decision: should I trade in my current vehicle to a dealership or should I try to sell it myself? Despite the attractive benefits of private selling, in most cases the obvious and most convenient decision is to simply trade your vehicle in and accept the dealers’ trade in allowance.

We’ll be discussing, the pros & cons of selling your car privately in our next article “Is It Hard To Sell A Car Privately?”

Sales Tax Savings with Trade-ins

One of the greatest benefits of the trade in format, comes with how sales tax on your new purchase is calculated. Across most of the country, when you trade in a car to purchase a new one, you will get some sort of sales tax credit based on the value of your trade. What exactly does this mean? States which allow a sales tax credit for a trade-in, calculate the tax you will have to pay on the final purchase based on the cost after the value of the trade is subtracted from the cost of the new vehicle. For example, if you are buying a new car for $20,000 and the dealership offers you $8,000 for your trade-in, you will pay sales tax only on the $12,000 difference! The existence of a bank lien payoff has no effect on the sales tax calculation. Whether the trade-in is owned free and clear with no bank lien, or the lien payoff is thousands more than the actual value of the vehicle, the sales tax savings will be the same. Any lien, or no lien, has no effect on the sales tax savings.

If you owe more on your old bank loan than the vehicle is worth, this is considered to be “upside down” or have negative equity in your old car. If your credit status is strong enough, the lender who is financing the second purchase might agree to refinance the negative equity, in addition to the new car loan. This refinancing arrangement is only available if you trade in your old vehicle.

Less Hassle

When the customer trades his old vehicle, all of the DMV tasks are handled by the dealer. The transfer of ownership, the assignment of title, the lien payoff, obtaining new plates and surrendering the old plates, are all handled by the dealer. If the trade in is sold privately, most of the DMV tasks must be handled by the customer.

Bottom Line

Trading in the old vehicle gives the owner the convenience, the sales tax savings and the freedom from any hassles after the sale. The only real issue remaining is whether the trade in allowance is fair. If the dealer really wants the trade, then the customer might ask for a larger trade allowance. As the trade in allowance goes up, the sales tax savings also goes up, and the amount financed on the new vehicle goes down.

The bottom line really depends on the reasonableness and fairness of the trade in allowance. If the trade allowance is way below the lien payoff to the bank, or simply far below the advertised prices, the customer must make a tough decision.

Whether you’re trading in your car to buy a new on or just looking to get rid of your current vehicle, Trust Auto makes it quick and easy. We utilize a multitude of reputable third-party data to establish the true market value of your car and get you a fast, free appraisal. Afterwards, we review your vehicle on-site and give you an offer through our transparent assessment process. When drivers trade in their old vehicle for a new one at Trust Auto, you can do so with the confidence of knowing that you will always get the fairest offer for your trade.

What’s a “GOOD DEAL” for buying a car?

Elements of a Good Car Deal

Everyone wants a good deal on their next car. But what is a good deal? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and a good deal depends on what you are looking for. Could the lowest price be a good deal? Maybe not. Could the highest price be a good deal? Maybe yes. It is not a simple answer. There are many variables; many moving parts.

If the price is the same, does that mean the cars are the same? Of course not. Every used car and truck is unique. There are no two that are exactly alike. The mileage, the optional equipment, the wear and tear history (Who drove it?), and most important- the overall condition of the vehicle all have something to say about what really makes a “good deal”.

CarGurus Deal Rating

CarGurus defines a good deal as a price that is a little below the National Auto Dealers Association (NADA) average retail price for a vehicle. This is great to consider as a starting point when searching for a car, but you’ll also want to consider the overall condition, or how the vehicle was driven. Is the vehicle on its’ third set of tires and fourth set of brake linings? Was it driven by a sweet old lady or a frustrated 20-year old bruiser?

The more you know about your next vehicle, the more confidence you can have about a buying decision. That is why Trust Auto gives you a 360 degree overview of each vehicle. You will see the Maryland State Inspection Report, one of the most comprehensive in the US, and far better than Virginia or Pennsylvania. You will see the Carfax report of any accidents, damage and all reported repair orders. You will see pricing of comparable vehicles from the most respected sources in the US – Kelley Blue Book, NADA, Edmunds and others.

At Trust Auto, we want to make your purchase decision painless, with no regrets and no second-guessing. You can purchase with the confidence of knowing that you did everything necessary to make a good buying decision.

New Year, Used Car: The Best Time to Buy a Pre-Owned Vehicle

It’s no secret that the best time to shop for a new car is between Black Friday and New Year’s Day. But what about a used car? A brand new car may not be what you are looking for – whether you need a second car for your family, a car for a new driver, a work truck, or something that you can use as a commuter vehicle – sometimes pre-owned cars are the way to go.

It may seem like a stretch to spend a large amount of money right after the holidays, but January is the best month to buy used vehicles. And here’s why:

Strong December Sales

Many new car dealerships run great specials on vehicles in December to make room for new-year inventory. This means they have a lot of used vehicles on their lot that they want to sell.  In order to make room for new cars, these dealerships will likely have the used cars on excellent sales and provide low prices with attractive financing.

Given that over 1/2 of new car sales involve a trade-in and resale takes an average of 45 days, dealerships will be eager to get used vehicles off their lot, meaning the buyer has the upper hand in negotiating deals and better prices.

Slow Retail Month

After the holidays and going on spending sprees, many people tighten their wallets in the new year. People use what extra money they do have (after paying off credit card bills and debts) towards less frivolous things.

However, car dealerships still have to make money and meet sales quotas. This means one things: A buyer’s market. Dealerships and salespeople are eager to close deals and make sales, making January a great time to negotiate a better deal. This will even extend into February and even March, until people have paid off their debts and reenter the retail world.

Leased Vehicles Ready for Resale

Many people lease cars at the end & beginning of the year, which means many 3-year-old vehicles are available for resale in January. These vehicles are generally in great condition and will be “restored” to like-new condition. Since the mileage is lower than many used cars, you can find a steal – a newer model with low mileage for an exceptional price.

Luxury Deals

If you are shopping for a sports car or luxury model, chances are, you’ll land the best deal during the winter months. There is little supply-and-demand for sporty little cars with convertible tops or flashy little cars no suitable for harsh winter roads, which means you will likely get your pick of the best luxury vehicles for a much lower price than if you wait for the weather to get warmer.

Typically the more expensive cars on the lot, come January, these sporty little models suddenly drop in price and become more reasonably priced and the best deals out there.

Another Year Older

When the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve, used vehicles suddenly become one year older meaning their value drops, and sometimes that drop is significant. For instance, Edmunds says the typical 2009 model sold for $19,392 in December 2012, but $18,738 in January 2013 – a 3.4% price drop in just one month.

This is true for models that are only 1 or 2 years old as well – you can find an “old” model that is just 2 years old, and in most cases, it will be in mint condition with just some miles put on.  For this upcoming January, look into 2017 models instead of a 2018 model and you’ll be shocked at how low the price is compared to it’s 2019 counterpart.

Shop Around for Financing Deals

Oftentimes, the finance deal the dealership will offer you isn’t the best you can find – especially in the new year.  A lot of banks, credit unions, and regional banks will offer financing incentives in the new year for existing customers. Contact your bank to see what deals they are offering and if you qualify for low interest rates. There may be discounts available if you enroll in auto-pay or use an existing bank account for the monthly payments.

Before settling on a pre-owned vehicle, be sure to look up what the MSRP was for the vehicle originally, and if there is any resale information. This can help you negotiate prices and deals in the long run. The most important thing to keep in mind is to have a set price that you cannot go over. No matter how great a deal, if the deal is more than you are able to spend, it’s not worth it.  Never overspend just because a dealership is pressuring you to sign a deal to help them meet their quota.  Keep shopping around – you will find the best deal for you!


Why December is the Best Time to Buy A Car

There are arguably a few different times throughout the year that are ideal for buying a car. But December is the best time to buy a car.

It’s enough that dealerships are generally emptier during the holidays due to people traveling, but sales teams have looming quotas to meet before the year’s end. To put it simply, they want cars out the door. And the best way to do this is to run unbeatable deals.

In fact, consumers can expect to get almost 8% off MSRP values when buying a car in December as opposed to waiting until January.

Like any big purchase, it’s important to do your research before you buy a car, so do your research (and maybe even test drive a few) during the fall. This will give you plenty of time to decide what make, model, and trim options you want in your dream vehicle. But when it comes to making a purchase? Pull the trigger between Black Friday and New Year’s Eve.

Here are just a few reasons why December is the best time to purchase a car:

Better Leverage (& Negotiating)

Dealerships tend to be slower during the winter months, so in order for the sales team to meet their quotas, they will be desperate to get cars out the door and on the road. This means you, the buyer, will have better leverage to get a great deal on the vehicle you desire. Take advantage of an empty dealership to ask lots of questions and get in-depth about the car’s features, amenities, safety ratings, and when it comes down to price, don’t be afraid to haggle.

Making Space for Newer Models

October, November, and December see a lot of new makes and models come onto the scene in preparation for the new year. But this means the old inventory has to find a new home so there’s room on the lot. Meaning… prices will drop. If you are shopping for a car, instead of buying a 2019 model, look at 2018 models instead. The prices will be significantly lower because they aren’t the newest model on the market anymore. But December is when the prices hit the lowest – the longer a car sits on the lot unsold, the lower the price drops.

Peace of Mind

You may not think about this when you are purchasing a vehicle right away, but have a safe and reliable vehicle can bring you a lot of comfort during the winter months when road conditions are treacherous. Having a vehicle with new tires, top-notch breaking capabilities, and updated technology can give you more confidence when you are driving on slick and snowy roads.

Holiday Bonuses

Everyone loves a little extra cash for a holiday bonus. Why not out it to use and put it towards a down payment on a vehicle.  If you can put down a higher percentage, you will be able to get a better interest rate, or better yet, if you can pay with cash, there’s a huge chance you can talk down the price even further!

If you’ve been dreaming of a new car, now is the time.  This is the best time to buy a car, so put your haggling skills to use and be prepared to get the best prices on the market!

Why August is the Best Time for Car Buying

Traditionally, when you ask someone when they the best time to buy a car is, they’ll tell you December. It’s common that automakers will offer end-of-year deals and incentives to boost sales for the final quarter.  But what is less known is that there are also incentives to purchasing a vehicle in August.

Historically, August has shown to have the lowest transaction price of the year (a 2.4% decrease versus the average).  The end of summer is when dealers are trying to clear out their aging inventory to make room for new inventory. With such a large volume of vehicles passing through car lots and showrooms, dealers can offer a great flexibility in price in August.  

Back-to-School Car Buying

For growing families, back-to-school time means carpool, soccer practice, and hauling kids around to after-school activities.  As kids get older and bigger, it only makes sense to invest into a larger vehicle that will fit a growing family.

Other families may decide that back-to-school time is a good time of year to buy a safe, reliable car for the new driver in their family or to a child who just got their learner’s permit.  Families may also decide that their new graduate needs a vehicle before heading off to college, so cars with good fuel efficiency, bluetooth capabilities, and navigation are in high demand.  

Image result for buying a car

Regardless of the situation, August is a peak time for families who are looking to buy cars. Automakers and dealerships can be motivated by the year end change to move their existing inventory.  

Model Year End Car Buying

With the new year inventory starting in October, many dealerships clear out their older models to make room for their new year models.  So in order to make room, they want to offer great deals to customers. Buying a car in August will allow you to take advantage of the specials that dealerships are running while there is still a good amount of current-year models available.  

SUV Deals

Families and buyers interested in SUVs are in luck if they purchase in August. On average, SUV prices are lower than any other month of the year.  Customers who have been holding out for better pricing will see the best options and availability for savings during this time.

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August offers historically high buyer incentives, great discounts, and larger prices drops than other months. Also keep in mind that purchasing a vehicle in the beginning of the month can result in a 1.3% decrease in price or an average of $390 in savings, compared to the rest of the month.  If you find a dealership that is open on Sundays – go then! The largest decrease in average transaction price occurs on Sundays – averaging 4.6% or $1,402 in savings.

Happy Car Buying!

7 Best (and Safest) Used Vehicles to Buy

As soon as your drive off the lot, your new car loses significant value.  That’s why there has been a rise in used car sales over the last 8 years. Some of the most reliable vehicles on the road get a second life as being sold as used and certified pre-owned cars.  

Used vehicles that are at least 5 years old are typically the best bargain, with most of the vehicles on this list being resold for less than 50% of their original price.  

Best Used Vehicles to Buy

1. 2010 Acura RDXImage result for 2010 acura rdx

This 5-passenger RDX was the U.S. News and World Report top-ranked luxury compact SUV in 2010.  

With a perfect reliability rating from J.D. Power & Associates, the RDX comes equipped with leather seats, bluetooth, and satellite radio.

The 2010 model earned a 9.4 score for safety and resells for an average of $17,726.

2. 2009 BMW X3

Image result for 2009 bmw x3

The BMW X3 was the top-ranked compact SUV in 2009 and earned 5/5 reliability ranking from J.D. Power & Associates.  

The sporty exterior is paired with a luxury interior with a panoramic sunroof, but some features like Bluetooth, were considered add-ons at the time.  The powerful engine still holds up 8 years later against newer models.

The resale value of the X3 averages $15,847 and was scored a perfect 10 safety rating.

3. 2012 Cadillac CTS

Image result for 2012 Cadillac CTS

Nearing the top of the 2012 Upscale Midsize Cars, this powerful 3.6L V6 received a 4.5 out of 5 reliability rating from J.D. Power & Associates.  

The CTS comes standard with features like leather interior and Bluetooth.

Selling at half its original price at $21,798, the 2012 CTS was scored a near-perfect 9.7 for safety.

4. 2009 Ford Fusion

Image result for 2009 Ford Fusion

This sedan was the No. 1 Affordable Midsize Car in 2009.

With a perfect reliability score from J.D. Power & Associates, the 2009 Fusions comes standard with traction control, optional stability control, and 5-speed automatic transmission.

Reselling for only a fraction of the original price at an average of $8,777, it was given a 9.6 safety score in the evaluation of used cars.

5. 2010 Lexus ES

Image result for 2010 Lexus ES

Topping the charts of upscale midsize cars in 2009, it was given a perfect 5 out of 5 ranking from J.D. Power & Associates.

This luxurious sedan comes standard with leather seats, power sunroof, and an 8-speaker stereo.

Selling for just a fraction of the original price, you can purchase a 2010 ES for just $12,060 (compared to the original price in the mid-$30,000s). The 2010 model scored a 9.4 safety rating.  

6. 2011 Mercedes-Benz E-Class

Image result for 2011 Mercedes E Class

This 5-passenger, luxurious sedan earned a perfect reliability score from J.D. Power & Associates.

This Mercedes-Benz luxury sedan comes standard with leather upholstery, heated front seats, and navigation system.  

The E-Class average resale price runs around $26,302, which is about half of the original price.  This sedan was awarded a perfect safety score.

7. 2011 Toyota Avalon

Image result for 2011 Toyota Avalon

In 2011, the Toyota Avalon was the top-ranked of the most affordable large cars. Like most Toyotas, J.D. Power & Associates awarded the Avalon with a perfect reliability score.

The 5-passenger sedan features a sleek exterior, updated dashboard, bluetooth and USB connectivity, as well as a power sunroof and leather seats.  

The 2011 model scored a 9.7 safety rating and resells for an average of $17,447.

How to Speed Up the Car-Buying Process:

You did it! You found the car of your dreams. you took it for a test drive. you know it’s the car you want to drive home. And now… you wait.

The used car-buying process can be agonizingly slow and drawn out since more times than not, it includes arranging financing, signing contracts, and determining what other aftermarket add-ons you may want for your vehicle. With newer technology becoming standard in vehicles, some of that lengthy wait can be chalked up to going over the navigation, audio, and entertainment systems.

However, the longest delays can happen when you show up with the wrong, expired, or forgotten documents. By following this checklist, you can avoid some delays and get on your way.

speed up car-buying process

Car-Buying Process: Document Checklist

  • Payments: You can use a bank check or credit union check for the pre-approved loan amount, or if you are financing through the dealership, you can use a personal check or even a credit card for your down payment. To know what checks are accepted at the dealership, call ahead of time and speak to the finance manager.  They will be able to tell you everything you need before stepping foot into the dealership.
  • Driver’s License: The dealership will need to know that you are legally allowed to drive the vehicle off the lot once it’s purchased, so be sure you bring a valid driver’s license. This will also service as a form of identification for your check or method of payment.
  • Title for Your Trade-In: If you are trading in a vehicle, you will need proof that you own the vehicle. This shows that you are the owners and are allowed to trade it in. If you had a co-signer on the trade-in, be sure to obtain their signature ahead of time. Tip: Be careful during this stage. If the title is signed incorrectly, it could be rejected by the dealership or motor vehicle registry. If you are unclear as to what needs to be signed, speak to someone at the dealership and they will be able to assist you.
  • Current Vehicle Registration: If you are trading in a vehicle, you will need the current registration. Be sure it is valid, up to date, ad the stickers on your vehicle match the documentation.
  • Proof of Insurance: In order to drive your new car off the lot, the dealership will need to see proof of insurance. Call your insurance company and inform them of your pending purchase so your policy can be updated quickly, as soon as you know what vehicle you are purchasing. In some cases, insurance companies will fax information directly to the dealerships, however, some dealerships just need visual proof that you have a current auto insurance policy.

car-buying process documents

  • Pay-Off Amount for Trade-In: If you are trading in a car that you still owe on, you will need to bring the payoff amount and loan information. If you are unsure how to handle this, call the lender and explain what you are doing. This type of transaction occurs regularly, so they’ll be able to walk you through the process.

Buying a used car doesn’t have to take all day. Come prepared and you will hit the road in no time!

Top 5 Myths About Buying Used Cars

Buying a used vehicle isn’t rocket science, and shouldn’t feel like it.  However, with so many misconceptions and myths there are about buying used cars, it can seem like a very stressful process.  We hear a lot of the same myths over and over, and there is rarely any truth behind them. Let’s take a look.

Top 5 Myths About Buying Used Cars: BUSTED!

Myth 1: Used Cars Aren’t Reliable

Nowadays, cars are built to last.  It isn’t uncommon to see a vehicle reach upwards to 200,000 miles before it finally bites the dust. Modern technology and advances in machinery are keeping vehicles on the road for longer.

Keeping on top of regular maintenance (oil changes, tire rotations, daily upkeep) will help any vehicle run smoothly for as long as possible. If you are looking for a vehicle and want to know the general reliability, check a trusted source like NADA or U.S. News and World Report.  They’ve used customer surveys, satisfaction reports, and buyer behavior to give every vehicle a reliability score.

Myth 2: Used Cars Don’t Have Any Resale Value

When cars are properly maintained, vehicles will hold onto their value a lot longer. Regularly scheduled maintenance will help a vehicle maintain its integrity and things like safety, fuel economy, appearance, and reliability.  

After a few years, if you have kept your car well-maintained and decide to sell, there is a better chance you will be able to trade it in or sell it for a good amount of money. Since you purchased it as a used car, you won’t need to sell it for as much in order to make a profit.  

Myth 3: There’s No Way to Tell if You Are Buying a Quality Used Car

This myth is simply not true. Any certified mechanic will be able to tell if the car has been properly maintained during its lifespan.  When the previous owner ignores dashboard warning lights, skips oil changes, or doesn’t take the care in for routine maintenance, there are clear signs that any trained and experienced mechanic can see.  

Used cars all have a history report that outlines their accident history, any damage that was given.

Myth 4: A Lower Payment is Better

When purchasing a car, it’s smart to think about your budget and what kind of payment you are comfortably able to make each month. So when you are presented with finance options and you see a low monthly payment, it may look very appealing.  But beware. Auto loans are typically front-loaded on interest payments, so it you are paying a lower monthly payment for a longer loan term, there is a good chance you are paying more than the vehicle is worth in interest alone.

Before signing anything, make sure you know the bottom line and you are aware of how much you will be paying for the car in the long run.


Myth 5: Never Finance at the Dealer

Like all myths, they should be taken with a grain of salt. There is a hint of truth here, especially if your credit score is bad.  However, if you are interested in a 0% downpayment, you won’t be able to find that at a local bank – because they won’t make any money off that deal. If you are looking for the best interest rates, explore your options at the dealership.

Most dealerships have a wide variety of banking institutions and credit unions that they work with in order to get the best rates for their customers.  Dealerships can offer those coveted 0% loans because they will still make a profit off the sale of the vehicle. Even if you choose to go with your own financing option, you may be able get a few points off of what you already thought was an excellent deal.

At the end of the day, the car-buying process is simple – research vehicles, get attractive financing options, and negotiate a price. These myths make it more complicated than it needs to be, and that why we are busting these myths wide open.

Tips for Taking a Test Drive: What to Look For and What to Bring Along

Whether buying a new or used vehicle, taking a test drive is one of the most important steps in the car buying process. It is the only way to determine if a vehicle is truly a good match for you and your lifestyle – just because it may look good on paper does not mean it will handle in a way that is comfortable for you.  

Depending on where you are in your search for your next car, you may be ready to pull the trigger on a new car the same day, or you may just be starting to look and want to take your time.  Regardless of where you are in the process, here are a few tips for making your test driving experience easy and hassle-free.

What to Bring to a Test Drive

Important Documents

Most importantly, bring your driver’s license when you are planning a test drive.  Dealerships will want proof that you are eligible to drive before handing you the keys to one of their vehicles.  

Regular Cargo

If you regularly drive with cargo in your vehicle, like a carseat, you will want to bring that along on a test drive to make sure it can be easily installed, fits comfortably, and meets safety requirements.  


A Notebook

While this isn’t the most important thing you’ll need, it will help if you can take notes and write down the things you like most about the car you are driving.  Especially if you are in the early stages of buying a car, this can help you remember what you liked and didn’t like about each car you test drive.

What To Look For Before You Start a Test Drive

Entering the Vehicle

Is the vehicle easy to get in and out of? Do you have to squeeze into the seat? Considering you will be getting in and out your car daily, make sure that you don’t have to maneuver yourself to get comfortable.  

Adjust the Seats

Take your time adjusting the seat to get it just right. Are the seats electric or manually adjusted? Is there enough headroom? Can you see over the steering wheel? Is there proper lumbar support? Do your legs feel cramped? Make sure you can answer all of these questions before getting started on your drive.  If you can’t get comfortable, there’s a good chance that car is not for you.

Familiarity of Controls

Make sure you know where all the controls are – turn signals, windshield wipers, and headlight controls are important before you hit the road.  Every vehicle has a slightly different control panel and dashboard, so familiarize yourself and make sure it is something you are comfortable with.  

Tips While You Are on the Test Drive

How the Car Handles

Be conscious of the steering and how the car handles. Each car handles differently, so see if the steering feels heavy or if it is too light. Depending on where you drive on a daily basis, you may not want to feel like you are struggling to turn the car around tight city corners, while if you drive bumpy country roads, you do not want to feel like the steering is too loose and you could lose control.

Brake Reaction

It’s important to feel comfortable with the braking of the vehicle. Is the brake reaction time slower than what you are used to, or is the braking very sensitive? Everyone has a personal preference as to what kind of braking they prefer, so if you are not confident in the vehicle’s ability to stop, then move on and try another car.  


If you are driving a car with an automatic transmission, pay attention to how smoothly the vehicle upshifts and downshifts, especially on hills.  If you are test driving a car with a manual transmission, make sure you are comfortable with the ease of shifting. Is the clutch heavy? Is it hard to discern between first and third gears?


How does the vehicle maneuver tight turns and curves on the road? Is it easy to fit in parking spaces? Is there rear-camera assistance for parallel parking? Does the vehicle accelerate properly for merging on to busy highways? These are all questions you should be able to answer during your test drive.  


Be sure you can see in all directions and are aware of the car’s blind spots.  Take note of how well you can see out the rear window, mirrors, and over the dashboard.  


Is the car stocked with the amenities you are looking for? Is there a rear-view camera? Parking assistance? Lane departure warnings? Bluetooth and hands-free technology? Navigation system? It’s important to be satisfied with the amenities the vehicle has, and that you know how to operate them properly.  

What’s Next? Tips for After the Test Drive

Even if you loved everything about the vehicle you just test drove, don’t let a dealership con you into buying right away.  As a general rule of thumb, it’s important to drive at least 3 vehicles before deciding on the one you want to purchase to keep your options open.  If you are offered a really great deal from your salesperson, write down that offer and let them know you will be in touch. Sometimes it helps to sleep on it before choosing a particular vehicle.  

If you have driven a few cars and you are ready to pull the trigger and purchase a vehicle, ask your salesperson a few questions that may influence your final decision:

  • Is there a vehicle warranty? And if so, what is included?
  • What is included in the price?
  • What finance options are available?

Knowing the answer to these questions will help determine future costs down the road – if there is no warranty, understand that you will have maintenance costs.  There may be hidden fees that increase the price (and ultimately, your monthly payment) that you are unaware of. Make sure you can get approved for a loan – unless you are able to pay cash.  Not all dealerships have the same financing options at their disposal, so it may come in handy to come pre-approved from a bank.

Buying a new vehicle is a big step, so take your time and don’t rush into a decision if you aren’t fully confident with the vehicle you test drive. When you are ready to find that perfect pre-owned vehicle, visit Trust Auto for great cars and great deals! 

How to Buy A Used Car

There are ways to save thousands of dollars when buying a car. One of them is to buy a used car.  You’re far from alone if you are looking into used cars next time you are in the market to purchase a new (or new-to-you) vehicle. In fact, over 40 million used cars exchange hands each year.  

By choosing a used car over a new car, someone else will absorb the depreciation costs that new cars suffer from the moment they leave the lot.  Of course, there is a certain level of risk involved in purchase a used vehicle, but if you do the proper research prior to test driving a used car, you’ll find one that makes you (and your wallet!) very happy.  


Budgeting for a Used Car

The older and more miles a car has, the less expensive it will be. That is common sense. But, make sure you account for wear and tear that is inevitable on older vehicles that can lead to more repairs down the road.  Find a balance between the initial cost and how much flexibility you have for maintenance repairs before determining a budget for your used car.


To help determine how much you can spend on a used car, total up your monthly bills and compare to your monthly income.  This will give you a ballpark idea of what your monthly payment can be, and will be very helpful when it comes to negotiating your deal.

Finding the Right Used Car

Once you determine your monthly budget, you can start looking for vehicles within that price range.  Starting on the lower end of your budget will provide you with more savings and potentially more flexibility in options a used car dealership can provide, like an aftermarket warranty.

When looking for a car, consider your wants, needs, and what kind of car will fit your lifestyle. Do you carpool the kids to soccer practice? Do you need something fuel efficient for a long commute? Will you need optional 3rd row seating? Does your location require all-wheel drive, or can you stay with a forward-wheel drive vehicle? These kinds of questions are all things to consider when in the market to purchase a vehicle.  

Inspecting a Used Car

All used cars have a history. Maybe it was someone’s first car and they drove it throughout high school. Maybe it was the car the proverbial grandma drove to the farmer’s market every Saturday morning.  Regardless of the make or model, each car has a history, but it’s up to you to find out as much as you can about the vehicle before making a purchase.

Request all the documents you can from the seller to prove the car has been maintained properly and thoroughly inspected.  To get an idea of the vehicle’s accident history, request a CarFax report from the seller. Most dealerships will provide each used car with a comprehensive CarFax report.  


Be sure to test drive the vehicle before making any decisions to get a feel for how the car handles, if there are any weird sounds, or if the car has that “new again” feel.  To ensure the safety of the used vehicle, have it inspected by an independent mechanic. Not all problems will show up on a report, so it is always a good idea to have a set of eyes check it out.  If the seller tries to convince you that the car doesn’t need another inspection, take warning. Sellers may try to hide a recent accident or recent damage that hasn’t made it onto a written report yet, so take it to a mechanic to be thoroughly inspected.  If the car doesn’t look, smell, or feel right, run, don’t walk, away!

Financing a Used Car

Before you even set foot in a used car dealership, have a basic understanding of what your financing options will be.  Familiarize yourself with lending terminology and the process will be much smoother. It will help you to come pre-approved so you know what your potential interest rate and monthly payment will be, and chances are, the dealership will be able to match that or even get you a lower rate.  You can apply at several banks and other lenders before even walking into a dealership. Click here to read more about financing a used vehicle.


Negotiating the Deal

“Talking numbers” might be your least favorite part of the car-buying process – and you’re not alone.  It can be uncomfortable to negotiate on prices and add-ons. It will help to stick to your budget and decide what your absolute maximum spending limit will be.  This way you can be talked into paying a higher monthly payment than you can afford.  In order to negotiate a deal, you’ll need to be educated on what the car you’re buying is worth – and you can check on reputable sites like NADA. Databases like  Kelley Blue Book are a bit outdated and do not account for the value of the car on the current market, so if you use KBB, know it could be a very different number than the actual value of the vehicle you are purchasing. 

Keep in mind that used car dealerships have a little less flexibility in negotiating on the price of a vehicle since they are not being sold at original market value.  So, instead of trying to talk down the price of the car, try negotiating a warranty or aftermarket add-on. You’ll have better luck getting a lower price!

Call Trust Auto today and start your car-buying process.