Buyer Tips

10 Used Car Buying Mistakes You Want to Avoid

By Odet Garcia Updated: 04/10/2020 Posted: 11/13/2018

We all have purchased something that we did not make the right decision about and we have all experienced some type of buyer’s remorse to some degree. As you can guess, consumers do make bad car buying decisions all the time and these can lead to lost money, a car that is not fit to drive, and a headache. Below, you will find the 10 used car buying mistakes you want to avoid.

In a 2014 study, AutoTrader found that more than two-thirds of individuals surveyed experienced buyer’s remorse after their car purchase. Uh-oh. You don’t want to be one of those individuals, do you?

Further Reading

  1. Everything You Need To Know About Buying Used Cars
  2. Financing a Used Car for Sale
  3. How You Can Get Your Next Car from a Dealers Auto Auction

Mistake #1: Only shopping at one dealership.

used car buying mistakes

This is a common mistake made by many used car buyers. They simply fall in love with the first vehicle they see and make the purchase. Shopping at multiple dealerships offers you a wide selection of cars, but also interest rates, terms, discounts, and more.

If you are one who does not want to shop in person at several dealerships, you do not have to. In today’s world, you can shop online for a car!

Mistake #2: Focusing only on the monthly payment.

Above, we told you that you should sit down and come up with a monthly payment amount you can afford comfortably, and you should. But, one of the biggest mistakes that consumers make is that they ONLY focus on the monthly payment and nothing else.

It is vital that you focus on the monthly payment. But also on the other components of the car loan such as the interest rate, the total price of the car, and any additional options that will cost you money.

Mistake #3: Not test driving the vehicle long enough.

A test drive of any used car you are interested in is required. This is not a requirement to buy the car. However, it is if you want to make sure there is nothing wrong with the car.

It can be easy to get carried away in the excitement of purchasing your used car, but do not let this excitement distract you from what is truly at stake. Take your time when you test drive the car and do make sure it meets your needs and that there are no odd noises or driving issues present.

Mistake #4: Assuming the dealership has your best interests in mind.

While your salesman may be friendly, and he may seem like he is ready to help you, he wants to line his pockets with his earned commission. Unfortunately, dealerships do not have your best interests in mind and while you may think they mean well, they are just upselling you and trying to make more money.

Mistake #5: Spending too much time shopping for a car.

Time is money. We have all heard that saying before and it could not be any truer in this situation. Often, people will spend days or weeks shopping for a car trying to get the best deal possible. While shopping for a deal is one thing, do not shop for a deal to the point where you are missing social events or giving up family time just to do so.

Mistake #6: Forgetting to have a mechanic look at the used car.

You may think that a visual inspection and test driving the car are enough to determine if it is in good condition. If you are mechanically inclined, then it could very well be enough, but if you are not, you want to have a mechanic look at the car. Your mechanic will be able to tell you what, if anything, is wrong with it and what it would cost you to repair.

Mistake #7: Not calculating the true cost of ownership of the vehicle.

The true cost of ownership of a vehicle will provide you with some serious insight and many consumers never even think to check. Edmunds has a fantastic tool that can show you an estimate of what it would cost to own a car for five years.

Mistake #8: Choosing a car that does not meet your needs.

One of the worst mistakes you could make when purchasing a used car is choosing a car that does not meet your needs. It happens, especially when you are caught up in the excitement of purchasing your car, but, take time to evaluate your needs. Only choose a used car that can keep up with your lifestyle, work demands, family needs, and similar.

Mistake #9: Rushing to make a decision.

It can be fun to buy a used car and it is exciting to shop around. However, you do not want to rush to a decision. This can lead to buyer’s remorse, choosing a vehicle that does not meet your needs, and going over your budget. Before you decide to buy the car, take some time to think about it. Also, never feel pressured to sign any type of documents that a salesman may present you with.

Mistake #10: Trading in your old car.

Okay, wait, wait, wait. We have all been told that trading in our old car is a good idea. It not only helps take money off the cost of the car, but it looks good to financing companies.

While we are all used to hearing this, trading in your old car is not always the best idea and here is why. The dealership profits off your trade in. You would be better off to sell the vehicle as a private party. The dealership offers you less than what your car is worth so that they can turn around and sell it. Therefore, if your used car is worth $1,500, they may only offer you $900 or less. Accepting that offer means they make more than $500 on you.

You may want to skip the trade in option for now OR at least wait until you have negotiated a fair price on the used car before you bring up the trade.