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What to Do After Buying a Used Car? 5 Important Steps To Do


Buying a car can be an exciting event for many people. Whether you are replacing an existing car or it is your first car, there are many things to consider before you decide to purchase the car as well as after.

One of the most important considerations for many people is the emotional appeal of the vehicle. While it is difficult, consumers should always attempt to remain focused on the factual elements of the deal. Keep reading to understand exactly what to do after buying a used car.

Avoid allowing your emotions to impact your decision to make a purchase no matter how exciting it is, especially when the purchase is through a private seller. You may have found the car through friends and family or on social media. You can tell a lot from the pictures and whether they were professionally taken. Check for photo credits and reviews.

5 Things To Understand When Buying a Used Car

Things to Check before buying used carsSalespeople focus on emotions if the salesperson feels it can help to sell cars. All salespeople at car dealerships understand the emotional appeal of a car and the vast majority of car buyers fall into this trap. Car buying can be similar to playing a game of poker. Try not to give away your interest in the vehicle.

1. Auto Insurance

There are three main areas of car insurance coverage that drivers should consider. They are liability, collision, and comprehensive insurance coverage.

Most people make arrangements for insurance coverage based on the value of the vehicle they have purchased. A brand new car usually warrants full coverage, while an old clunker is not worth that much. Liability insurance may be all that is needed.

Insurance plan

Before driving the vehicle, talk to an auto insurance agent to arrange for your vehicle to be covered. Many states do not issue license plates or complete a transfer until you can prove that the car is insured at least for liability. Car buyers who require a loan, need insurance coverage.

Lenders require that the car is fully insured for damage insurance before they approve a loan. The lender places a lien on the vehicle until the loan is fully paid. Your insurance plan can vary depending on your personal situation.

Liability Insurance

Liability insurance coverage protects other car owners and property owners. If your vehicle is involved in an accident and causes damages to other cars or property, it is your liability insurance that covers the damages. The car owner must absorb insufficient coverage.

Damage and Collision Insurance

There is usually damage to your vehicle in an accident. Assuming the car has sufficient value to make it worthwhile, the owner can purchase damage and collision insurance to pay for damages and repairs to your car.

If the car is not worth much, it may be less expensive for drivers to decline this insurance. Of course, if the car is written off as unrepairable after an accident, you walk away with nothing.

2. Title Transfer and Registration

Laws vary from state to state. In general, you can transfer the title and registration of a vehicle once the original owner has signed the sale documents on his registration.

Also, the following are required in many states: a completed application for Title Transfer, Notice of Sale, Odometer Reading, Proof of Insurance, and approved loan documentation if applicable. Your car may also have to pass a safety inspection and emissions test.

3. Read the Vehicle Owners Manual

Many drivers never open the owners manual; however, the manual contains a great deal of useful information about operating the vehicle as well as the car maintenance schedule. Many electronic features have become common in today’s cars. Review these areas to understand their use and how to operate them.

4. Get It Inspected with Your Local Mechanic

Ideally, drivers should have a pre-purchase inspection completed before purchasing a used vehicle. Both safety and maintenance issues are high lighted in an inspection. For example, brakes that need replacement, tires that are wearing unevenly, ball joints, and more can cost thousands in repairs.

You may decide not to purchase the car or use this information as part of the price negotiation. If you already have purchased the vehicle, ensuring your car is safe is the primary concern. Repairs can be arranged as required, and budget allows.

Check the Car Brakes

An important safety item is your vehicle’s brakes. Brake repair can also be expensive. Arrange for the brakes to be checked and any repairs that may be needed. If you notice a squealing sound or the brakes pulse when stopping, they may need to be repaired. They could also be dangerous if you cannot stop quickly.

Get Oil Change

Always ask the previous owner for copies of maintenance receipts. They provide some idea of what work has been completed, including oil changes on your car. If in doubt, have the oil changed. If it is black, don’t wait, have it changed immediately.

Check Sensors

Faulty sensors usually cause the check engine light to illuminate. The engine may run rough, or the gas mileage may also suffer. Have the sensors checked and repairs completed? Check for error codes if the check engine light is lit to help find the sensor that is reporting the malfunction.

Evaluate the Battery

The car battery should be tested to confirm its overall health. Again repair records or the previous owner may be able to tell you how old the batter is. Slow engine cranking or dim lights could indicate a bad battery or corroded connections.

Check for Bad Spark plugs

Remove each spark plug and evaluate their condition. Corroded plugs or dirty plugs should be replaced. Always check that the gap is set to the correct specifications for your car’s engine.

Change All filters

Always change the oil filter every time the engine oil is changed. Check the air filter and change it if it appears to be dirty and soiled to increase air flow to the engine.

5. Inspect Your Cars Wheels and Tires

Check your tires and wheels every day before driving, and immediately after you take possession. Verify the tire pressure. Check for abnormal wear on one side or the other. Look for wheel balancing weights that may have fallen off. Take your care for a test drive to check for smooth operation at highway speeds. Have your wheels rebalanced if the vibration is detected?

Check Tire Pressure

The tire pressure should be checked every week. The recommended pressure can usually be found on a plate on the driver’s side door or in the manual. Tires underinflated provide poor cornering and poor gas efficiency. Overinflated tires may explode at high speed, potentially causing a severe accident.

Make Sure Wheels Are Not Shaking

Take your car for a test drive. Any vibration from tires and wheels that are out of balance can be felt in the steering wheel. All tires and wheels require re-balancing from time to time depending on wear and tear, impacts from potholes, hitting a curb. If your tires and wheels are out of balance, have them checked to avoid more damage to the tires, shocks and ball joints.

Get Wheel Alignment

Anytime tires begin to wear on one side or the other; it could indicate that the alignment needs to be adjusted. Your car may pull from one side or another, causing your tires to wear prematurely. While the alignment is being completed, have your wheels balanced at the same time, and inspected for any damage.

Few Tips and Tricks Before You Buy Used Cars

Always complete as much research as you can before purchasing a car. Avoid becoming emotionally attached to the car. It is impossible to negotiate a good deal when the seller is already aware that you want the car.

Look for low mileage when buying the car, although the price may be higher for a low mileage vehicle. Check for any history of accidents. Ask for the maintenance history.

  • What is the dealer’s reputation and policies towards warranties?
  • What warranty information is provided?
  • Does the dealer offer a grace period?
  • Is the vehicle certified, and can it pass a SMOG test?
  • Do you need financing and can financing be part of the purchase arrangement?

Take it for a test drive and have your mechanic evaluate the vehicle. There are car sales taxes as well as other fees and taxes in addition to the price you pay for the vehicle. When you drive off the car lot, the value of the auto from a resale price usually drops, especially for new cars.

Most vehicles depreciate quickly. There is a lot to check when buying a car. Take your time and be thorough. Before you make the final purchase, talk with your current auto mechanic, one you trust, and ask them for an inspection.

The mechanics at your local auto body shop can examine the car to guarantee you’re getting a decent deal. They also can identify any problems that may need to be repaired.

Test Drive The Car

Lastly, take the car for a test drive on rough roads as well as at highway speeds. Listen for any unusual noises. Check acceleration. Verify the operation of the brakes. Does the auto vibrate at highway speeds? Examine the tires for unusual wear.

Take some time to check that all electronic features of the car operate properly. Drive the car to determine if there is anything that needs repair. Use this information as part of your negotiation of the final purchase price. Some items may be quick fixes, while other items such as the electronics are quite expensive.

Increase Your Credit Score

Buying a car can improve your credit score over time. Meet all of your monthly payments and pay the debt off on time demonstrates that you are a reasonable credit risk. Your auto is being used as collateral for the loan. Avoid missing payments and avoid repossession of the car.

Evaluate the Cars Maintenance History

Always review the cars maintenance history if it is available. Confirm that regular oil changes were completed. All filters were replaced. The car’s manual describes the maintenance schedule for your car. If previous owners have followed this schedule, your auto has been well looked after.

Check the Vehicle History For Accidents

Always ask if the vehicle has been in an accident. Look for telltale signs of parts replacement and bodywork, especially along fenders and in the engine compartment. Do the doors close correctly and fit snug? Use the VIN of the car to check for accident reports on various web sites.


The sale is final right after the buyer and seller have a contract that has been signed by a notary public, and all documents have been deposited at the local motor vehicle agency. If you purchase the automobile at a car dealer they can take care of all the paperwork for you.

Sometimes people use a credit card as form of payment. Buying cars is not like real estate that appreciates in value, right after you leave the dealership your vehicle depreciates drastically, and this happens immediately after buying.

Always keep in mind that you need a good insurance company backing you up, specially when you buy used cars from a private seller. You never know what to expect and accidents happen.

Try to read the owners manual and become familiar with the car maintenance. Another thing to check when buying used cars is if there is a lien on the vehicle. It is possible to find a lien during car sales between a private buyer and seller.

Last Updated on: October 17, 2022

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