How to Find the Perfect Used Car in the Lone Star State
Spring is here and you’ve probably just received a nice tax refund from Uncle Sam.
That means there’s never been a better time to shop for used cars in Texas. There are thousands of listings out there. No, seriously. There are literally thousands of used cars for sale right now all across the lone star state.
The big challenge is finding the right one at the right price that fits your budget and family dynamic. Used automobiles are booming right now, so we want to offer some tips that will help you sort through all the noise and streamline your shopping process.
Tip #1 – Prioritize by Budget and Location
You probably already have a number in mind that you’re willing to spend, so the best way to start is by putting those filters to work when performing your searches for used cars for sale in Houston (or other applicable area). The great thing about the pricing filter is you can set a range or a max price cap. This ensures you don’t see any used vehicle outside your budget. This also helps you filter out the ones that are too old or have too many miles, which usually fall on the lower end of the pricing spectrum.
Additionally, you’ll want to apply some distance range filters to keep your used shopping local to you. This ensures you’re not seeing used cars that are over 100 miles away from your current location.
Once those price and location filters are set, you’re going to see a lot less used cars in your results. However, the results should be more in line with what you want.
Tip #2 – Further Prioritize by Vehicle Type, Drivetrain, Fuel Economy, or Mileage
From here, you need to decide what your must-haves are. For instance, some people absolutely have to have a truck with a ton of towing capacity. Or they need a large SUV because they have a big family. Or they want something with a fantastic fuel economy because they have a long daily commute.
See what we’re getting at here? As a used car shopper, you’ll want to identify the one or two things that are most important to you and then apply them to your search filters. What’s great about modern online used car shopping these days is that you can filter by almost any vehicle attribute you can imagine.
Most people start with those big items like vehicle type and mileage and then further whittle down their results using things like vehicle color and convenience features. Start with what’s most important and then work your way down.
Tip #3 – Arrange to See the Car and Complete a Thorough Test Drive
By this point, you should have been able to narrow down your search results to at least a handful of vehicles that look like they might be a viable option for you. Once you’ve done that, it’s time to switch from an online shopper to an in-person inspector and test driver.
Seeing the car that you may potentially buy in person is a big part of the shopping process. You should never buy a vehicle sight unseen, so make sure to arrange a test drive as soon as you land on a vehicle that you want.
This gives you an opportunity to give the vehicle an inspection for any cosmetic damage or dents that you may not have seen in the pictures online. Also, make sure to check the condition of the tires and how much tread is left.
When it comes to test driving, perform all of the following:
- Drive at moderate speeds and high speeds
- Perform left and right hand turns
- Check brakes at various speeds
- Check windows and mirrors
- Drive in reverse
- Check emergency brake
- Check signals, wipers, and other instruments are working
- Check radio and speakers
- Check navigation system (if applicable)
The mistake that a lot of used car buyers make is that they don’t take their time when it comes to the test drive. Buying a used car is a big decision, so don’t feel you need to rush through the test-driving process. The last thing you want is to buy the car and discover that it shakes when driving at high speeds.
One Final Note on Certified Pre-Owned vs. Used
A big concern with buying a used vehicle is how well it will perform once ownership is 100% transferred over to you. Of course, you should always ask for the service and accident record when looking at a used vehicle; however, even with a clean record and consistent service, there are no guarantees.
If you want some additional peace of mind when used car shopping, go with a certified pre-owned vehicle. All those certified pre-owned vehicles are slightly more expensive than used vehicles, they do come with a limited warranty offered by the vehicle’s original manufacturer. For instance, a certified pre-owned Volkswagen would only be offered at a Volkswagen dealership.
Additionally, certified pre-owned vehicles are generally some of the best ones on a used car lot. They are typically accident free, low in mileage, and are in great condition.