How Do You Keep From Getting Screwed When Buying A Used Car?

Illustration for article titled How Do You Keep From Getting Screwed When Buying A Used Car?

Buying a used car is a bit of a crapshoot. What do you do to make sure you aren't getting swindled when making that big purchase.


One element that cannot be ignored is the pre-purchase inspection. You might be able to look at a car, especially an older classic, and say "oh, that's nice," but you probably don't know the intricacies. Getting a pro mechanic to look over the car makes all the difference.


What do you say? What's the one thing you have to do when buying a used car to make sure you don't get screwed?

(QOTD is your chance to answer the day's most pressing automotive questions and experience the opinions of the insightful insiders, practicing pundits and gleeful gearheads that make up the Jalopnik commentariat. If you've got a suggestion for a good "Question Of the Day" send an email to tips at jalopnik dot com.)

Share This Story

Get our newsletter


I'm sure some of these have already been posted, but here is my list, it's worked well with my last two new car purchases and I'm still on speaking terms with the dealerships...

1) If buying new, research the dealer wholesale price and add $500-750 on top of that. This is your final sale price, don't offer a penny more and walk away if they won't deal.

2) NEVER EVER talk monthly payments when at the dealership. Only discuss "all in", or "out the door" prices.

3) Never let the dealership run a credit check before the test drive (it will affect your score and it generally makes them harder to deal with).

4) Never talk price after the first test drive (if the dealership wants your business, make them earn it).

5) Never entertain the idea of "extra protection/extra coverage". If you want 3M coverage, under body protection etc. etc.. do it after market for less, and honestly, the rust protection on new cars is almost always 7-10 years and unlimited mileage, so you are really wasting your money to go that route anyway.

6) Don't buy what's on the lot. This is where I've been able to get my $500 over wholesale price offers. Ask the dealership what they have coming in that has not already been spoken for. If they have what you are looking for scheduled to be delivered, or in transit (and it's what you want) offer them $500 over wholesale. The car was never on the lot, and isn't taking up inventory space. It's a quick $500 turn around for the dealership, and a nice savings for you.

7) Never finance unless it's at 0%. Seriously, this one should be a no brainer. Don't spend more money on financing.