3 Most Common Used Car Buying Mistakes

While buying a car can be exciting, there are some pitfalls to avoid throughout the process. From lack of preparation, to thinking with your heart instead of your head, here are three of the most common used car buying mistakes:
  1. Purchasing based on passion. Purchasing a used car is a big and costly decision, which means emotion needs to take a back seat to common sense. Falling head over heels for a particular car not only puts you at the mercy of the savvy salesperson, who will see stars in your eyes from across parking lot, it also closes you off to other vehicles that may actually be a better fit.
  2. Negotiating the monthly payment rather than purchase price. Since numbers can be easily manipulated, you could actually overpay for your used car if you talk in terms of monthly payments. While the payment being discussed may be what you had in mind, the salesperson can arrive at that number by giving you less for your trade-in, for example, or by extending the number of years you finance, or convincing you to lease rather than buy. Negotiate the vehicle's price first, then talk about your trade-in, financing, etc. afterward.
  3. Not knowing what your trade-in is worth. While you may get a great price on your used car, it may only be because you took a big hit on your trade-in. That's why it's so important to know the value before you begin shopping. There are plenty of websites that will let you research trade-in values to expect when going through dealerships, as well as the price you can expect to get if you sell it to a private party (which is usually more).