Buying a used car is exciting but is also an investment in time and money. It helps to have a checklist to make your journey go more smoothly. The following tips will help you research and choose your next vehicle when you visit a local used car dealership in Los Angeles.

Know Your Budget

Determine how much you can afford before shopping. Having a price in mind narrows down your choice of vehicles, making it easier to find the car you want at the price you can afford. There are other factors to consider as well, including:

  • Models and trim levels
  • Vehicle options
  • Pending repairs
  • Title and registration
  • Cost of gas

Check Your Credit

Before you start looking for a used car, check your credit report and know your credit score. Are there any issues that would prevent you from getting a car or make it more difficult? It may be more practical to reduce what you owe or improve your credit before buying a car. Some dealerships are stricter than others; for many, a low credit score won’t get your financing application denied.

Check the Vehicle’s Quality/History

Once you have a vehicle in mind, make sure it’s worth your time and money. Research reviews online and check the title of the vehicle. Move on if the car is listed as salvaged. Also, ask the dealer for service records and whether the vehicle has been reconditioned. You can also get a CarFax report or even call your insurance company; the agent can look up the VIN to uncover more about its history.

Be Prepared to Negotiate

It helps to know the market conditions. Research what cars of the same year, make, model, and trim level are currently going for; this can give you leverage in negotiating a lower price. Also, know the out-the-door price, which includes additional fees not shown on the window sticker. If possible, approach the dealer to negotiate at the end of the month, and be prepared to walk away if you can’t agree on a price.

Look for a Posted Buyers Guide

Federal law requires a Buyers Guide to be displayed on the window of every used vehicle a dealer sells. It is a form that details major problems to look for and informs you of your right to: 

  • Have the car inspected by an independent mechanic before it’s purchased
  • Obtain a vehicle history report and where you can do so
  • Check for safety recalls and how to find information on open recalls

In addition, the Buyers Guide can indicate whether the car is being sold as-is (without a warranty). But this isn’t allowed everywhere. An implied warranty typically covers the basic function and purpose of a vehicle. 

Know If the Car Is Warrantied

A stated warranty is a written guarantee from the manufacturer or used car dealership in Los Angeles. Depending on its age and mileage, the car may have a dealer warranty or a remaining factory warranty. A full warranty covers any necessary service free of charge but a limited warranty places conditions on the types of repairs covered. The Buyers Guide must specify the exact type included with the car.

Schedule an Independent Inspection

A vehicle history report may not be completely accurate or up-to-date. Always have a used car inspected by an independent mechanic, even if the dealer has certified and inspected it. While you’ll have to pay for the inspection, it can uncover mechanical problems not listed in the report and avoid paying to fix major issues.

Beware of Optional Products and Services

After several hours of work, the dealer may try to sell you add-ons. Sometimes these aren’t discussed. Read the contract carefully before signing it, as add-ons can tack thousands of dollars onto the purchase price. They may include services such as rustproofing, gap insurance, and VIN etching. If you want an add-on included, ask what it costs and get it in writing.

Know Your Payment Options

When you purchase from a used car dealership in Los Angeles, you can pay in full. However, many people choose to finance their vehicle and pay over time. When financing a vehicle, consider:

  • What you can afford for a down payment
  • How much your monthly payments will be
  • Charges for financing the vehicle
  • The length of the financing period.
  • The annual percentage rate (APR)
  • The total sales price, including monthly payments and the down payment

Do not sign the agreement or related documents until you have all the information you need and fully understand it.

Know What You Need to Bring

Each dealer may require specific documents to approve your purchase. At Hawthorne Auto Square, we require your proof of income (whether a check stub or government benefits), proof of residence, and a form of identification. Being prepared makes the process go much smoother!

Visit Your Local Used Car Dealership in Los Angeles

Hawthorne Auto Square is a buy here, pay here dealership that offers in-house financing programs. You can get low-interest financing or take up to 5 months to build your down payment. It’s up to you how to get started. Hundreds of low-mileage, road-ready vehicles can be found in our online inventory. Each is covered by a six-month comprehensive warranty. Or, feel free to visit us in person and speak to a representative. For information or to schedule an appointment, call 866-707-7664 today.