It’s no secret that car shopping is exhausting, especially when we have a list of criteria we want our car to have. Leather seats, push button start, 3rd-row seating, and so on. Then, because we are being budget conscious, we set a price limit on what are dream car can cost.
This might put us into the used car category and limit a lot of our options of what is available for us to buy. Which is okay, we just need to make sure that we are doing that extra bit of research once we’ve settled in on a car we’d really like to buy to make sure that there are no issues, or potential issues with the car.
This is a great resource that tracks the VIN specifically of cars and lets you know what kind of work has been done, etc.
It’ll also let you know if there are still open recalls on it that haven’t been taken care of yet.
CarFax is a paid resource if you’re looking to do the research on your own. However, if you’re working with a dealership, they have a subscription to CarFax and are more willing to run the report for you if helps them seal the deal with you and sell the car. Don’t be afraid to ask for it either if you’re concerned about it.
If you’re shopping private party, don’t be afraid to ask for the CarFax either if the original owner cannot provide a list of records of the vehicle to give you a sense of when things happened (i.e. – Oil changes, recalls, etc)
Look For Consumer Reviews
Read through reviews of the car too that others have posted to see what they are saying. Sometimes they might reveal little quirks or major issues that are great to know before buying a car. You can decide this way if any of those things are deal breakers, or if you’re okay with taking the risk.
The Bottom Line
If you’re on a budget, and you’re looking to buy a new car, you don’t need to inherit a bunch of problems to go with it. Having car trouble in the middle of trying to get out of debt or make serious progress on a savings goal is disheartening at best. Spending the time upfront before buying the car to discover any known issues could potentially save you thousands of dollars down the road later.
I struggle buying used cars for this very reason. The potential that something could go wrong is enough to make me think twice and how any of that would affect my other goals. Tires are not cheap. New transmissions are not cheap. Having an engine rebuilt is not cheap (ask me how I know).
Ask someone for help in the research process
If you don’t feel you can do all this… it’s too overwhelming… ask someone you know who’s into cars and knows a bit more about what to look out for and consider in your buying experience. Even if they tag along to help you check out the car to make sure everything looks good to them too.