ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How To Buy A Used Car

Updated on September 3, 2012

How To Buy A Used Car and Not Get a Lemon

Ah to buy a used car and not get a lemon. Is it possible?

Buying a used car can be a wonderful experience because of all the money you potentially can save. However, it can also be a nightmare if you don't know the proper way to go about it.

Is it possible to get a used car that isn't a lemon or that you've paid way too much for?

How do you know you're not getting ripped off?

How can you buy a used car with confidence and not regret it every day you have the car?

Let's examine some great ways to know what to consider when buying a used car and then some ways to avoid getting a "lemon".



Put Your Thinking Cap On. Think it through all the way. Have a car in mind but make sure that the car you have in mind to buy is actually reasonable....for your lifestyle, insurance costs, maintenance, and that you can actually afford it. There are many car loan calculators out there, like Make sure you run the numbers with money down, no money down, etc. before you ever go near a "real" car. Check on line and figure out what the bottom price that you should pay for the car is. Check blue books and other sources for the actual "value" of the car you want. You should never have to pay more than what the car is actually going to be worth!

Get Your Act Together. Now that you know that you can afford the car, you know what you should pay for the car, and you have the qualifications to purchase a car (such as having a job for more than 6 months, having not moved in the last 6 months, and making over $1600 monthly for starters), start shopping for loans. Be careful not to apply for too many loans in more than a 2-week period or it can lower your credit score. Know ahead of time what the rock bottom priced loan is that will let you drive away with your car.

Finders Keepers. Now start trying to find your car. Go by the year that you want, the model, even the color. Make a list of things you want on the car and then make a list of things you have to have on the car. If you can be flexible in what you need versus what you want, you have a better chance at finding your dream car. Look on-line, look at dealerships, and look on CraigsList and ebay. I know a couple of people who bought cars on CraigsList and got fabulous deals.

Take Any Potential Car For A Test Drive. Once you find your dream car or cars, go take them for a spin. See if you really like the car after all and if it's really for you. If you're buying a used car, it's recommended that if you are serious about buying the car, you have a licensed trustworthy mechanic check it out. Usually they will charge a nominal fee but that fee can end up saving you many headaches later on.....that "lemon" factor. Also ask to see maintenance receipts and check out the history of the car at and check the VIN number of the car and read all about its prior history.

So You're In Love...Love is Blind. Okay, so you've done all the above and you know to the tips of your toes that this is the car that you want. Now walk away. Seriously......don't argue.....walk away. At least for a while unless there's a chance that someone else is looking at the car and you are 1000% sure.....not 100% sure but 1000% sure. Having a cooling off period even for an hour or two and thinking about the price, what repairs (if any) the car needs, etc. can save you from making a costly mistake. It always pays to not impulse buy although sometimes it can pay off and you get a sweet deal.

Talking turkey. Once you do decide this is the plunge you want to take, make an offer that's lower than the asking price. Don't make it ridiculously low but lower than what you REALLY want to pay for the car or lower than what its value is. You can always work up by increments but if you give too high an offer, you can't take it back! If you're working with a dealership and they don't want to budge, walk away. I know.......that's twice now! Walk'll be glad you did! You'd be amazed at how "creative" they can become when they think they're losing a customer, especially at the end of the month at a dealership!

Don't Pay More Than You Need To Pay - Ever! If you read about the blue book pricing on this car and you did your homework like we discussed, you know the answer to how much should you pay for the car. It's that simple! You should be able to walk away with a car that's the lowest possible price you can get for the car, and you should be able to pay for it with a low interest loan. DO NOT and I repeat DO NOT go over your budget "just because you love the car." Buying a car that you budgeted for that is outside your budget limits is just bad business. You don't need the car that badly!

What to Look for in a Used Car by Consumer Reporting

How To Buy A Used Car and Not Get a Lemon

If you do all the things suggested above, you'll be able to walk away with confidence and you'll also be pretty near 100% guaranteed you won't have gotten a lemon!

Don't forget to check out the insurance rates before you start your quest for the "perfect" car either. It pays to know how much that little red coupe is going to cost you so there are no surprises.

Also use the tools below to make sure the price is rock bottom low, track the history of the car, and then get the best loan available with the lowest interest rate.

Calculate your loan payment several different ways and come up with the one best for you and your pocketbook.

With a little extra effort, you can buy a used car and not get a lemon!

Don't forget to watch the video, too and find out about the things you should look for in a used car.


The True Value of Your Car

  • Kelley Blue Book
  • Edmunds True Market Value

Car loans

  • Up2 Drive If you purchase a car from a dealer
  • if you purchase a car from a private party

Loan Calculator

  • On-line car loan payment calculator

Past History of Car


Credit Reports and Scores

  • Experian
  • Equifax
  • TrueCredit
  • Experian Triple Advantage

Extended Warranties

  • Carchex
  • Warranty direct


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • profile image

      Lyla Burns 

      9 years ago

      I am the type of person that when I decide I want something, I want it now. Sometimes I hate that part of my personality! I need to calm down and really do my research while I'm looking for a Calgary used car. Hopefully with these tips I won't end up with a lemon!!

    • reviewthelaw profile image


      9 years ago from Newport Beach , California , 92660 United States

      great post! in fact I learn a lot from your tips. Thanks for sharing :)

    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      10 years ago from Washington

      Thanks very much for stopping by UCCDA NY - and I think used is going to be the wave of the future in this economy!

    • profile image

      Used Cars Capital District Albany NY 

      10 years ago

      Thanks for sharing these helpful tips. It seems the purchase of a used car is viewed as an investment by many consumers. Good read.

    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      10 years ago from Washington

      Thanks, Hanna for stopping by as always!!

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      10 years ago from London, UK

      A thoroughly worked through hub with lots of great tips.

    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      10 years ago from Washington

      Thanks, Simone!

      Crewman - that is too clever about being relieved when you left....I doubt it but I think I hear you on selling. My Bob is much the same way and if he had to sell anything for a living, we'd be broke!

      Hopefully the tips will help - I hate getting taken for anything!

    • Crewman6 profile image


      10 years ago

      Excellent points. I was a car salesman for 3 months. Everybody liked me, and I liked them, but we were all relieved when I left. I learned that most car salesmen are real people, nice honest folk, whose job is to get their dealership the best price they can. Most play fair... but because some don't, you have to be on your guard with all. Shame really.

      Still, if we would all follow the advice you laid out, things would work out much more to our benefit!

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 

      10 years ago from San Francisco

      This is a great, useful, relevant guide! I appreciate how you were able to put a lot of information into a more concise format. Thanks for writing the Hub!

    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      10 years ago from Washington

      Thanks Phoenix for your vote and for stopping by!

    • PhoenixV profile image


      10 years ago from USA

      Great Tips on getting a good car. Voted up.

    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      10 years ago from Washington

      Fiddleman - it is all a maze don't you think?

      Darski - You are too kind!

    • Darlene Sabella profile image

      Darlene Sabella 

      10 years ago from Hello, my name is Toast and Jam, I live in the forest with my dog named Sam ...

      Another fantastic hub, I have purchased mostly new cars as when I was young my used cars seemed to always be a lemon where I could not afford to fix...rate way up, you are fantastic, you are & peace darski

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Great hub and useful information. I haven't bought a used car in a while but I know from past experience cars are bought and sold at dealer auctions. Most are trade ins and if the dealer thought they were worthy would be kept and sold from their dealerships. I wonder how many of them are able to sleep at night. The number to call is BR549


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)