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How to Buy a Used Car:
The First-Time Buyers' Guide

How to Buy a Used Car: The First-Time Buyers' Guide

So you're buying your first used car. Congratulations! A car is one of the most significant purchases you will ever make, and buying used is definitely the more economical choice. The entire purchase process forces your emotions to yo-yo from nervousness to excitement and back again. The number of choices out there can leave your head spinning. You might even have trouble figuring out where to start—how do you buy a used car? You do the initial Google search, bringing dozens more questions to your mind: What type should I choose? What will its purpose be? How much should or can I spend? Keep reading for tips on how to buy a used car that meets both your needs and means.

Buying a Used Car by Type

Buying a Used Car by Type

When buying your first used car, you should first figure out the type of car you need. All you have to do is think about the size and number of people you'll be transporting regularly. Let's look at the major car classes to help narrow your search.

Used SUVs

Used SUVs

The SUV or sports utility vehicle is a popular choice among consumers looking for high performance and comfortable cabins with plenty of seating. SUVs are known as all-terrain vehicles or off-road vehicles because of their capability to run on rough terrain and hefty design and safety features. Most are equipped with four wheel drive (4WD) systems and have higher ground clearance for sloping hills and muddy terrains, while easily seating up to 7 passengers.

Used Hatchbacks

Used Hatchbacks

Hatchbacks are easily identified by their 3 and 5-door structures, typically seating 3-5 passengers. The rooflines on hatchback cars slope downward from the rear door forward, allowing for maximum storage space. The storage compartment is easily accessible by a latched door, and also from the main cabin. The rear seats can also fold down for additional cargo space.

Used Sedans

Used Sedans

The sedan easily defined as the most popular and practical type of vehicle. It has four doors so that all passengers can easily enter and exit the vehicle. The enclosed trunk keeps all your cargo secure and separate from the main cabin, while comfortably seating five adults. There are three types of sedan according to size—sub-compact, midsize, and large sedans, typically housing 4 or 6 cylinder engines.

Used Minivans

Used Minivans

The minivan is popular for its convenient size and drivability. The roomy interior can accommodate both high passenger counts and large cargo very comfortably. Typically, a mini van has a shorter hood to make up for the larger boxy cabin space. What minivans may lack in elegance, they more than make up for in functionality. A full-sized minivan can comfortably seat 8 adults while offering plenty of headroom, making it incredibly useful for larger cargo.

Used Trucks

Used Trucks

Trucks are primarily utility vehicles, easily moving large volumes of heavy cargo across great distances. The basic cab truck has 2 doors and comfortably seats 2-3 passengers, while the extended 4-door cab truck can seat 4-5 passengers. The adjustable belts and restraints in the bed of the truck easily secure bulky cargo to ensure it can be transported properly.

Determine Your Used Car's Purpose

Determine Your Used Car's Purpose

There's a lot more to buying a used car than finding something that gets you from Point A to Point B. You want to choose a car that best suits your needs, so it's important to decide on its main purposes. Ask yourself how this car is going to be used most of the time. Will you use it for commuting, hauling around family or luggage, sports or all-terrain? Knowing the main purpose of your next car will help you narrow down your shopping list even further.

Used Cars for Commuting

Used Cars for Commuting

Let's face it—commuting is a huge part of our everyday life. To some of us, it feels like we spend more time in our cars than anywhere else. If the majority of your time is spent commuting to and from work, then you need a used car that is fuel efficient and comfortable. It couldn't hurt to have a few extra bells and whistles, or make it device compatible either. For the ever-persevering commuter, cars like the mini car, sedans, or crossover SUVs are your best bet.

Used Family Cars and Company Vans

Used Family Cars and Company Vans

Need to get the family to sports and school events? Plan on hauling heavy packages and luggage for your small business, or starting a taxi service that requires frequent starts and stops? The best choice for you would be a larger vehicle with a customizable interior—something like a minivan, van or SUV. These used cars have plenty of passenger room that can easily be converted into cargo space. The extra space makes it easy for elderly or disabled passengers to get in and out of the vehicle as well.

Used Off-Road Cars

Used Off-Road Cars

Whether for sport or out of necessity, rugged terrain and bumpy roads might be a major part of your daily life. Are you an adventurous driver who's not afraid of a lot of dirt? A used and heavy duty off-road car is perfect for any turf—dirt roads, gravel, potholes, and of course... mud. Many are equipped with AWD (all wheel drive) systems that can get you out of slippery situations no matter what the weather.

Determine Your Used Car Budget

Determine Your Used Car Budget

Now that you have an idea of the kind of car you want, let's talk money—the deal breaker. Determining your budget will help you in many other areas of your search for the right used car. By knowing how much you can afford to spend, you can separate your wants from your needs, and buy the used car that's right for you.

Start by accounting for your household budget, including your rent/mortgage, food, utilities, entertainment, and any other recurring monthly expense. After balancing and prioritising your funds, can see how much you can afford to spend each month on your car. Be sure to include all of the costs of owning a car. That means accounting for fuel, parking fees, mileage, regular maintenance, and insurance. All these expenses add up to the monthly payments you'll be making on your new (used) car. Luckily, since you decided to buy a used car, you'll be paying significantly less than those other guys buying right off the lot.

Buying a Used Car Is Easy with BE FORWARD

Determining how to buy a used car for the first time can be a daunting experience, or a thrilling one if you use the right tools. Remember to breathe and remember the three points mentioned above: type, purpose, and budget. BE FORWARD has a number of useful tools like this handy quotation board on the search page, to the right of the stocklist tab. Its friendly staff are dedicated to making your buying experience as smooth and pleasant as possible. Feel free to send an inquiry and take yourself one step closer to buying a used car that's right for you.