How to Buy Used Cars in Kansas City

March 28th, 2018 by

When you shop at a used car dealership in Kansas City or browse advertisements on Craigslist or for private party deals, purchasing a second-hand or used car that has had multiple previous owners, you need to make sure you do your homework and review our checklist below. Buying a used car requires that the buyer be attentive, detail-oriented and prepared to negotiate an optimal deal.

Make sure you have a specific car in mind that you want before stopping at used car dealerships. Review the dealers’ websites. Also, call a dealership to find out what is their inventory.

Before settling on a car, you need to find out what it’s worth. When you have a car that you have identified as a possible purchase, next research its value online based on its mileage, model, maker, and year it was made. Additionally, you need to run a CarFax report to find out its maintenance history and whether it has been in previous accidents or even salvaged. Ask the dealership or private dealer for records to confirm important maintenance details like brake replacements, transmission fluid replacement, timing belts, clutch, air conditioning servicing, or other pricey maintenance work.

Be prepared to walk away if you sense that a private seller is not forthcoming, appears deceptive, or even suspicious. Do not be impulsive and instead take the time to sleep on it before making a big financial decision regarding purchasing a used car. Before deciding to purchase the car, walk away from the deal, but make sure the seller has your contact information and thank him or her for their time.

Shopping at the right time and during the right season can make a difference in the deals that are available to used car buyers.

Step 1: Evaluate the Whole Cost

Make sure that you are purchasing a used car that is within your budget both for the purchasing price and maintenance price of the vehicle. Some individuals will purchase a used BMW, Mercedes, or Porsche because they can afford the price of the used car, but then later realize they cannot afford the maintenance costs, repair costs, or replacement parts because they are extremely expensive.

If you are taking out a loan, do not exceed more than 20% of your paycheck after deductions to cover the cost of the vehicle per month. A used car may seem like a bargain, but depending on a variety of factors, the price of the vehicle may increase due to repairs related to wear and tear, cost of parts and maintenance, and electrical sensors failing.

Step 2: Develop a List of Used Cars that you are Interested in Purchasing

Although you may fantasize about a used Corvette or Mustang parked outside of your home, the reality is that it may not fit your budget, lifestyle, or commuting needs. Developing a checklist based on your particular needs and preferences will allow you to prepare for the unexpected and will provide you with a clear set of expectations that you require from your purchase of a used car.

Create a detailed list of automobiles that would allow you save on gas mileage per gallon, but will allow you to have plenty of space, comfort, and other amenities that will offer you a pleasant driving experience.

Consult with your significant other about whether the vehicle has the safety standards that would protect your children or loved ones in the event of a serious accident. Additionally, you may want to have the vehicle inspected by an independent mechanic prior to purchasing the used vehicle in order to ensure that the car has been provided a proper multipoint inspect that will meet generally accepted safety standards.

Also, you need to consider whether the used car you are purchasing will meet the emissions requirements for your state.

Purchasing a used car is a significant investment and great detail and time should be taken to ensure that you have thoroughly evaluated your personal checklist.

Step 3: Evaluate the Price Ranges and the Kelley Blue Book Value of the Vehicle

Be sure to take advantage of all of the pricing inventory lists that are available online. There are varying prices for the same car everywhere you go, based on a variety of variables, including but not limited to: mileage, year, make, model, number of doors, accident history, and geographical location of the purchase.

Private-party deals will usually provide the highest negotiation leverage and the lowest prices, whereas a certified pre-owned vehicle with multipoint inspection and extended dealership warranties would probably be the most expensive but significantly safer.

Do not be afraid to peek under the hood of the car and to poke around to make sure everything is running smoothly and that the vehicle has a clean bill of health. Avoid cars that have been designated salvaged, because most insurance companies will not take the risk of insuring a car that has major structural defects due to an accident. However, keep in mind a salvage title doesn’t always indicate that the vehicle has experienced significant collision damage. A car with a salvage title may be the result of weather damage, fire damage, flooding, or may have been stolen and then recovered after the owner has been compensated by the insurance company for the loss. Therefore, if you are truly eager to acquire a car at a bargain price that has a salvage title, do yourself a favor and make sure you find out exactly why it has earned a salvaged title.

Step 4: Test Drive the Used Car

A proper test drive is a mandatory step in the process of purchasing a used car because it allows you to truly understand how the car feels and sounds when being driven on the road. Make sure you listen carefully when turning on the ignition, test the brakes, shift the transmission between park, reverse, and drive, and accelerate the car and listen carefully for any abnormal noises. Some major questions to ask yourself while driving the vehicle:

  • Is it spacious and roomy enough for you and your potential passengers?
  • Are there any maintenance, error indicators, or engine lights on?
  • Do you smell oil, gas, or exhaust fumes from the muffler when driving the car?
  • Does the vehicle’s suspension system feel like it is working properly to absorb the bumps in the road?
  • Are the brakes functioning smoothly; do they squeal or require effort to work?
  • Do all the features and functions work properly? Test the air conditioning, headlights, brake lights, radio, pull the trunk, hood, and gas compartment buttons to make sure you can gain access to all of the essential features of the car.

Step 5: Have the Car Inspected Professionally by a Trained Mechanic

If you do not plan on purchasing a certified pre-owned car, which has undergone inspection and is under dealership warranty, then you need to make sure you request to take the car to a mechanic to be professionally inspected. Inspection for pre-purchase can cost around $100. Although this cost has to be covered by the buyer, it is a small investment for preventing the purchase of a lemon on the private market.

Step 6: Negotiate a Good Deal

Now that you have made it to this stage, you are ready to purchase your used car, but first, you need to settle the final price with the used car dealership in Kansas City or private seller. Knowing your budget and having a proper negotiation strategy can increase your probability of walking away from the used car lot with extra cash in your pocket and “new” car that is your own, even if it is used. Do not feel pressure to purchase the car. If you feel uncomfortable with any parts of the deal, be prepared to walk away and try your luck elsewhere.


Posted in Pre-Owned Vehicles