Getting a brand-new, straight-off-the-assembly-line vehicle is the dream. However, for the vast majority of people, that feat is difficult or impossible to achieve, especially considering today’s economy.

Fortunately, there’s an excellent (and logical) alternative that can be as exciting, rewarding and, most importantly, profitable in the long run: buying a used car from a dealer. However, this only holds true if you approach it in the right way and with the right mindset.

In this part of the guide, we’ll give you all the necessary information to set you on the right path and help you make the decision in line with your needs, preferences, and possibilities, while in Part 2, we’ll focus more on how to buy a used car from a dealership with the least amount of hassle and risks.

buying a used car from a dealer

What is the process of buying a car?

Purchasing a used vehicle can be a smart, budget-friendly option that can net you numerous benefits. However, it also comes with its own set of unique challenges that you’ll have to overcome in order to keep reaping those benefits. 

You can do so by choosing to be analytical and methodical in your approach. Now, this may sound intimidating but it actually isn’t. All this means is that you’ll have to set aside some time and do your research before buying a car from a dealer.

Step #1: Setting a realistic budget

Let’s start with the obvious: how much car can you afford? Knowing exactly what you can afford and how much you can spend in the long term will be a baseline that will drive every decision you make from this point onward. 

Here, the most important thing to remember is that it’s not just about the purchase price. You’ll have to consider factors such as insurance, taxes, and registration, as well as ongoing maintenance and fuel costs.

With this in mind, the best approach would be to calculate your total budget, factoring in your monthly expenses. Doing so will not only help you create a realistic financial plan, but will also guide you toward the right make, model, and age of your new vehicle.

Step #2: Identifying your needs and preferences

With a realistic budget set and cemented, it is time to give some thought to what you really need in a car. When you are deciding what to buy, you should consider your lifestyle and specific requirements first, and move on to preferences second.

Are you a family person? Then a spacious sedan, SUV, or a crossover that can accommodate your kids and all their stuff is the right choice. Are you a frequent commuter? Then you might make the most out of a fuel-efficient (or half-electric) compact.

Finally, once you have a clear image of “why” you’re buying a car, you can consider some features that will make it even more personalized and suited for your specific needs. Creating a list of “must-haves” (essentials) and “nice-to-haves” (non-essentials) can be a great way to go about it, as it will make the entirety of the process for buying a car much easier.

Step #3: Researching the make and model

Now we’re getting to the fun part! It’s time to do some detective work and dig out the vehicle that will fit the unique criteria we’ve set in the previous two steps. In this endeavor, online resources are your best friends, namely:

  • User reviews are a phenomenal starting point, as they can give you a general idea of how the car “feels”. Also, they are the most numerous, so you’ll have a multitude of perspectives, a lot of which will coincide with your own;
  • Owner forums are similar to user reviews, but they tend to be a bit more insightful, both about the car’s performance, maintenance costs, and potential issues;
  • Reliability ratings are data-driven assessments of a vehicle’s long-term dependability, offering in-depth, numerical analysis of factors such as fuel efficiency, performance and safety under different conditions, frequency and likelihood of issues, and potential costs of repairs.

The aforementioned sources, especially owner forums and reliability ratings, can help you make an informed decision when buying a used car. More importantly, they can save you a lot of money in the long run by enabling you to avoid unnecessary and costly repairs.

Step #4: Finding the right seller

How to buy a used car with the least amount of hassle and risks? By finding a reliable and reputable seller, of course! The bad news: this is the most tedious and time-consuming part of the process for buying a car. The good news: Once you do your due diligence, you’re pretty much set! Here are some traits you’re looking for in a good dealership:

  • Honesty/Transparency: They will be straightforward with you and provide all the necessary info you need, including details about the vehicle’s history such as known issues or accidents.
  • Open communication: There are many questions to ask when buying a used car, and dealers should be open to answering them. If they’re giving you half-baked answers or avoiding answering them altogether, that should immediately raise some red flags.
  • Reasonable asking prices: They will base their pricing models on the current market data, taking into account factors such as the car’s make, model, mileage, age, and condition.
  • Straightforward process: They will do everything in their power to make your car buying experience smooth and stress-free. This may include taking care of the paperwork, allowing for test drives, and even letting a mechanic do a thorough inspection.

Once again, online reviews are your best friend when it comes to buying a used car from a dealer. They offer a great insight into how the dealer operates, as well as how they treat their customers, so it’s definitely worth checking out.

Step #5: Making the first contact

At this point, you should already have a hefty list of dealerships you can buy a used car from. Now, it’s time to go through it and contact each and every one of them, and the reason for doing this is threefold:

  • Confirming the info you got from review sites;
  • Gathering all the details about the vehicle;
  • Checking if the vehicle is still available;
  • Price comparison between different sellers.

By the end of this process, you should have several options, both regarding the sellers and the car you want to buy and the only thing left to do is take your pick.

how to buy a used car

Which dealer near me in Waco makes buying a used car super-easy?

Looking for a dream ride? Look no further than B.Y.O.T. – the leading dealer of used vehicles on either side of the Brazos River. Here, you can find an extensive selection of cars, ranging from spacious family sedans to reliable little compacts to comfy SUVs, each ready to find a new home and a great owner – You!

Every vehicle in our stock is meticulously inspected to ensure it meets the standards of reliability and performance, rendering the risks you typically encounter when buying a used car from dealers virtually non-existent. Reach out to us today and let us find you a trusty companion to drive you into the sunset!