Buying a used car is a great option if you’re looking to upgrade your vehicle but purchasing a brand new one is either unrealistic or unnecessary. However, used cars can come with risks of their own if you aren’t careful and don’t vet properly in your hunt for a newer vehicle.

If 2019 is your year to upgrade your current vehicle for one reason or another, a used car may be your best option; it’s more affordable, and many times it’s been refurbished to look like new. When taking this route, you’ll need to take some proper precautions and plan ahead to ensure that the process is as seamless as possible.

If you’re thinking of buying or actively in the process of searching for a used car, follow these steps and you’ll be on the road in no time:

Create a budget

This will take some time. Generally, a car payment shouldn’t cost you more than 15% of your monthly income; be sure to account for student loans, gas, groceries, and any other expenses that you regularly pay for when calculating this number. If you do not have enough cash to purchase your used car on the spot, you will need to take out a car loan in order to pay for the vehicle. It’s best to take out the loan before buying the car.

Decide on the car you want

You may choose to purchase a used car that’s the same brand as your current one, or you can do some research on the reliability of other brands if you feel like switching things up. Consumer Reports has a list of specific used cars that you should avoid buying due to their low reliability. This website has a breadth of resources for anyone looking to purchase a pre-owned vehicle including a search option for local used cars, and a variety of articles that list the best and most affordable vehicles on the market.

Research local options

There are several websites that will allow you to quickly search for used vehicles in your area. You can specify your search based on the make and model of the car you want, and the maximum amount you’re willing to pay for it. A couple of these websites utilize the vehicle’s Carfax report, but it’s important to note that insurance companies do not report to Carfax. If you’re looking for a cheaper option, you can purchase your car directly from an individual through a website like Craigslist. However, it’s essential to be careful with sites like these as it is much more likely that you will be scammed.

Set up a phone call with the seller

You’ll want to contact the seller of the vehicle you’re interested in to make sure their advertisement was accurate before taking the time to see their used car in person. Verify information regarding the car’s owner history, mileage, features, and so on over the phone. If the seller does not seem to be legitimate, don’t set up a meeting with them and continue your search elsewhere.

Test drive the car 

Once you’ve decided on a seller, test the car on the road to make sure you like the feel of it. If you like the car but something seems off, ask if you can take it to a mechanic to have the vehicle inspected. This shouldn’t be a problem, but some sellers insist they’ve already had it inspected and it isn’t necessary to do so again. If you feel as if the vehicle needs to be looked at, take it in anyways.


If you’ve done your research beforehand, you’ll know how much the used car you want is worth. When negotiating the price, stick to your budget and be prepared to walk away if the salesperson refuses to come up with a price you deem reasonable.
Start with a lower price, but not so low that you’re not taken seriously as a buyer. If you receive pushback, increase what you’re willing to pay in small increments until you reach a deal.

Contact your insurance company 

Before driving away with your used car, you’ll need to let your insurance provider know that you’re adding a vehicle to your auto insurance policy. If you traded in a vehicle to do so, tell them this as well. They will be able to fax over a new auto ID card to the dealer, so you can leave the parking lot without worrying about being pulled over without proper proof of insurance.


Call Risk Averse Insurance in Media, PA to discuss auto insurance for your personal or business vehicle.

Risk Averse Insurance is an independent insurance agency in Delaware County that specializes in providing high-quality insurance products at an affordable price.

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