In the midst of a pandemic, the safest mode of transportation is by using your own private vehicle. It can prevent you and your family from contracting the virus from other people. But not everyone can buy a car in an instant, and not everyone can buy a brand new car.

Buying a used car is a great way to save some cash, but finding the right one could be challenging. This is why we have created a list of tips to help you find the perfect used car to fit your lifestyle.

1. Budget

If you are going to apply for a loan to pay for your car, your monthly car payment should not be more than 20% of your monthly income. And if you are on a tight budget, you might want to consider spending even less. Used cars need a little more attention from time to time compared to a brand new car. Paying for new tires and the car’s maintenance isn’t cheap, so you would need to have extra cash for that.

If you are eyeing a car that is out of warranty, you might want to set aside an extra fund that would cover unexpected repairs.

2. Create a Target List of Used Cars

We all know that Toyota Camry and Honda Accord are nice cars from reputable makers, but they also cost a few thousand dollars more compared to Optima by Kia or Ford Fusion which are also good brands and models. So, if you want to save some money, try to look for more than one brand. Creating a list with at least four cars that fit your needs and budget is a must.

If you are planning to purchase a used car that is less than five years old, look for a vehicle that is certified pre-owned (CPO). CPO vehicles have longer warranties backed by the car brand, not just from the dealer selling it to you.

3. Compare Prices

You can find used cars in independent car lots, new car dealerships, websites where private individuals list their cars, and used car retailers. Out of these four, you can find the lowest selling price from the private individuals who sell their own cars. Most of the time, CPO vehicles cost more.

You might want to check how much other people pay for the models that made it to your list.

4. Check the Reviews and Rankings

Checking car reviews is one of the most critical steps in buying used cars. You can look for an online owner’s group and see the issues owners experienced with specific vehicles. You can find people talking about transmission issues they experienced after reaching the 70,000 miles mark.

Owner’s groups are a perfect source of information about maintaining your own car.

5. Know the Vehicle History

Getting a vehicle history report is essential in buying a used car, especially if you are not buying from a family member or a friend who can vouch for the car’s history. You would like to know if the vehicle you are looking at does not have a good history report sooner than later.

There are a lot of websites where you can find vehicle history reports. These reports can show important information about the car. You can also determine if the odometer has been rolled back if the title was declared a total loss by the insurance company. Most car dealers give these reports for free if they have the car in their inventory.

6. Know the Seller

Once you have a prospect for the car, don’t go straight away to see it. You need to call the seller first. This is a good way to establish a relationship between you and the seller. This way, you can verify the car information, and you can also ask private-party sellers why they are selling their car. If you are buying from a dealer, you can call them to ask if the vehicle is still in stock.

The seller might mention something that was not in the ad that might change your mind to buy the car. But if things go well, you can set up an appointment to test-drive the vehicle.

7. Test-Drive

Doing a test-drive is the best way to find the right car for you. It is also a great way to check the car’s condition.