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October 8, 2015

4 Used-Car Buying Mistakes to Avoid

Anyone purchasing a car for the first time probably will make one or two mistakes. Even experienced car buyers make mistakes.

To help you in your car buying experience, whether you’re a neophyte or an experienced car buyer, take a look below at four mistakes you should avoid when buying a used car.

  1. Not having a budget or not sticking to it!

We really can’t emphasize this enough: know what you can afford and never, ever, never, never, never go above it. No car is worth the stress of wondering if you’ll be able to make a car payment each month. (Or foregoing healthcare to afford the car payment. Don’t smirk; we’ve seen it happen and it’s beyond sad.)

  1. Falling in love with a car.

It’s common: you see a great used car. It’s in your price range. It has the amenities you need and many you want. But you see the car’s history (CARFAX, for example). and you see that it’s been a rental and was stolen twice. Not the car to buy.

Or you fall in love with a car that’s above your price point. Not the car to buy.

Or you fall in love with a car and it’s a bit over your price range but the salesperson says “I’ll chop $3K off the price if you buy it today.” Not the car to buy.

Never fall in love with a car. It can make you do stupid things, as in buy it when you can’t afford it. Or buy it on the spot because the salesperson presents an offer that’s “too good” to reject.

A car is just a car. Remember that. Clearly remember that. If you “lose” one car, you’ll definitely find another. It’s just a car.

  1. Negotiating from the car’s sticker price.

Instead, do some online research and find out (via and the Kelly Blue Book) what this make and model of used car is going for. Also, when it comes to used cars, most dealers’ sticker prices are about 20 percent above what they paid for the car. So negotiate from that price. Let the dealer know you want him to make a fair profit, and how low can he go from his purchase price. If in doubt, offer him 20 percent less than the sticker price and be willing to negotiate up from there.

  1. Focusing on the monthly payment

A savvy salesperson could end up encouraging you to purchase a car that’s more expensive if you focus solely on your monthly payment.  He can help you sign for a 5-year loan over a 3-year loan, which makes your monthly payments smaller, but also means you’ll be paying far more for the car over the five years due to interest payments. In fact, the longer the car loan, the longer it will be until your monthly payments start to pay down the principal of your loan. Instead, focus on the price of the car, not the monthly payment. Once you and the salesperson decide on the car’s price, then you can start thinking about monthly payments.

We’ve been helping Dallas-area used-car buyers find affordable cars for almost two and a half decades. We’re here to help you find a reliable used car you can afford. Contact us here at PAACO at 877-810-4555 for more information.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miless/

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