Top 5 Ways to Find a Perfect Used Car

Modified On Jun 28, 2016 03:33 PM By Aman

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Buying a used car is totally different from buying a brand new car. On one hand, all you have to do is go for a basic level of research on the segment that you are looking at, visit the car manufacturer showroom, try to get a good deal and go ahead with your purchase with a complete peace of mind. 

On the other hand, buying a trouble free used car is a little lengthy process if you are really looking to get a good deal at an affordable price. One important factor here is the initial step, ‘Research’. If you have done a fair bit of research before arriving at your final choice, chances are that you will end up with a car that is an overall winner. 

Now, before we share different ways of doing an optimum research, do go through below considerations which can help you get a good start on your research: 

Have a budget in mind: Used car market is like a sea in-itself. While you may find only limited options in a particular segment when going for a brand new car for a restricted budget, used cars give you the liberty to even go for a higher segment which may fit your budget as well. So it’s always healthy to keep a budget in mind so you don’t get swayed away with more and more pricier options.    

Know your usage: It’s very important to first understand your own basic usage when going for a used car research. Get these questions answered first! How much kilometers will I be driving daily? How many people will be travelling daily in my car? Do I want a car for my family or will it just be for my own use? How many outstation or highway trips will I make in a month? And lastly, how many years do I intend to keep a used car? By answering these basic questions you can further decide on which type of car do you really want and then continue with your research. 

For example, people driving for less than 50-60 km a day should ideally go for a petrol car instead of a diesel. Because going for a diesel car, you will easily be spending close to Rs. 1-1.50 lacs more than a petrol purchase. Now, if you spend that amount of money on fuel instead, by doing the math, you can get 2460 litres of petrol (considering Delhi petrol prices Rs 61 for a litre) which can cover around 34,426 km easily (considering average mileage 14 km/l). Now, even if you drive 50 km a day, you can drive the car for closed to two years every single day in this amount by opting for a petrol car! If your daily running is more, say close to 80-100 km a day, then it makes sense as it will bring down your average fuel cost because diesel is cheaper and it offers more mileage to a litre. 

If you are looking to drive it yourself with occasional family drives, a hatchback can work better for you than a sedan, especially if you commute on congested roads. If you go on a lot of outstation trips or drive on hilly terrains as well, an SUV can be a good idea or if you want to spend less, you can even go for a compact SUV as they are less expensive. If mileage is not really your concern, you can even go for a performance oriented sedan or a hatchback, to get the best of driving experience from your purchase.

Start early: People who are not in a hurry can really grab a good deal by spending some time in the research. For the same, say if you are looking to buy a used car anytime soon, it’s always great to start your research at least a month in advance so you get enough time to go through various options. This will help you go through different type of deals and come across multiple cars without being pressed for time to finalize a deal under pressure.  

Be patient: One thing that separates a normal used car buyer and a smart used car buyer is patience. You need not jump to conclusions the moment you find a potential buy. There are lot of other factors that needs to be checked and researched before you arrive at your final decision. This involves a thorough inspection of the used car. Here is how you can do an in-depth inspection of a used car before purchase

Keep your options open:  In the used car market, you won’t really come across similar condition cars that just fits perfectly to your needs. If you keep your options open, it can help you narrow down final set of cars and then go ahead in finalizing one. As prices of used cars are quite less than a brand new car, you have an advantage of comparing across multiple segment of cars which can even include a higher segment car in your budget. 

Now, once you have done this basic homework, you are ready to go ahead with your used car research with a clear direction. There are a lot of mediums that you can explore when searching for a used car. In the course of this article, we will simplify each medium for you along with its benefits and disadvantages as well, so you don’t have to sweat much for your research.  

When going ahead with your research, below are the 5 major touch points that one can look at:

  • Friends, family and network 
  • Newspaper classified  
  • Car manufacturer / OEM used car dealerships
  • Local used car dealerships
  • Online auto portals  

1. Friends, family and network 

This can be your first and basic step to spread the word around your social circle speaking to friends, relatives and other people within your network. There is no harm in exploring options within people that are known to you, but then again it can work both ways. Here are some Pros and Cons listed below when opting for this approach:

Advantage Disadvantage

You can always bargain as the owner is someone you know. They might offer a reasonable price keeping your situation in mind.

You can bargain but you can’t stress and go beyond a limit. One also has to keep in mind the relation with that known person as too much of negotiating can create personal issues 

It is easier to verify the credentials of the car as you will most likely have an idea about the car in question here with little knowledge of when it was bought and what kind of driver the owner is.

Getting too much to know about the car can also lead to an obligation of purchase. One should not get so involved that you are left with no other option but to consider the car out of obligation. 

They are trustworthy, which is half the battle. Unless you have a poor taste in friends, in which case, don’t blame us.

Saying No, can be really tough at times. When dealing with someone like a dealer or any other third party, one can easily say No to a car. But when you are dealing with a family member or a close person, saying No on the face can be a little problematic.  
Keep it and test drive it for long. If someone is really close, you can even ask the owner to lend you the car for a couple of days, so you can drive it as per your will and then decide if you want to go for it or not. If you come across any issue with the car post purchase, you can’t really do much of complaining with the owner. We are sure you would not want to jeopardize your personal relationship over a car, or will you? 

2. Newspaper classified

This again is an easy approach as most of you must have gone through newspapers classified section which has a lot of listings that include cars, property etc. It is an option but it’s not something that can offer a lot of details. Listed below are points that you should consider before going ahead with Newspaper research: 

Advantage Disadvantage

Daily and weekly ads can help you locate nearby dealers as well as direct sellers

A lot of ads are not genuine as it’s a bait strategy from dealers to lure in buyers

You can compare between similar segment cars listed and their price as well

You don’t get the detailed information of a car through a small section of ad   
If you are not technologically equipped, newspapers can be a good old school option to scout used cars  Navigating and keeping track of newspapers classifieds can be a little cumbersome especially when there are better options available  

3. Car manufacturer / OEM used car dealerships

This method is still a reliable option which you can explore. By visiting authentic car manufacturer/ OEM dealerships which deal exclusively in used cars can be a great choice. Some common examples can be Maruti Suzuki True Value, Honda AutoTerrace, Toyota U Trust and Mahindra First Choice. They not only keep their own brand of cars, but they also list other brands as well. But then again, there are some factors that you need to consider. Let compare them below: 

Advantage Disadvantage

They are more reliable when compared to the private dealerships in your neighborhood as they take ownership of the purchase.

Cars sold here are expensive than your regular used cars available within your network or through a private dealer. 

Cars offered are meticulously inspected through a multi-point inspection mechanism.

Being an OEM-based dealership, the salesperson will obviously be biased towards its own brand. You might not be able to get an honest opinion about the various options you can go for.

They also offer used car warranty on your purchase.  

Price point offered will not be very attractive as there are too many middlemen between the buyer and seller.

They also take care of the complete paper-work including ownership transfer as well as insurance and other details.  Few multi-brand options. As the number of such dealerships are limited they also cater to quite a few number of cars from other rival brands. Thus your choices are quite few when looking into multiple brand cars within a single dealership.

4. Local used car dealerships

This can be a convenient way of researching especially when you have just begun with your research. Paying a quick visit to a nearby used car dealer can give you a lot of options and you may find a suitable car as well.   

Advantage Disadvantage
Nearby location makes it convenient to access.  Issue with authenticity. Chances of getting duped are quite high as majority of cars on sale are not certified 
You get a range of options as it is not a dedicated car manufacturer dealership.  Being a part of unstructured market leads to unstructured pricing on cars. Rates may fluctuate depending on supply and demand 
Deal with an unbiased salesman, who will not vouch for one particular brand.  

5. Online auto portals  

Considering modern day technology and the advancement that internet space has gone through, going online for a used car research can be the most easy and convenient way to start the process. There are a lot of positives and some negatives as well which you should consider before starting your research. 

Advantage Disadvantage
They save you a lot of legwork. You can research all about the vehicles right from your living room or even from you smart phone easily. Location based used car listings can help you find a car nearby.

There are chances that people might get scammed due to fake posts. Not every website is genuine or lists down actual details of the used car giving any certification. 

Checking out online auto forums can also be a good source of information. You can find lots of car owners posting details about their cars, which can be of your interest. This can give you a direct connect without any other party involved in between.    You don’t get a face to connect. No matter how easy online research on auto portals can be, when you do not have a face to talk to or that physical connect, people tend to lose interest  
Now you can even search for certified used cars through auto portals. Some portals also have a team of experts who inspect the car and certify it for you. Like CarDekho offers a ‘Trustmark Certificate’ to cars which pass multi-point inspections and are trouble free.  You can do all of that by a click of a button and even search for your nearest car dealer that sells CarDekho certified used cars.   No touch and feel of the car. This being an online medium, many old school people might feel disconnected as you don’t get to physically see the car during research
The financial aspects of the purchase, like the loans, insurance, on road price, can be worked out easily in parallel to your search.  
You will also find detailed guides about paper-work involved such as transfer of certificates and other formalities to be completed online easily. If possible, the portals might also offer to do it for you.  

Our View: Out of all the mediums explored above with their advantages and disadvantages, it is quite clear that when it comes to convenience and comfort of research, nothing can really beat online auto portals. However, we are not saying that you should not go for any other medium when doing a research. In fact, a good research will be a combination of the mediums used above. But the edge that online auto portals offer with their swift response time, detailed comparisons, used car certifications as well as location based listings, your used car research is quite simplified. 

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