With my girlfriend and I spending about $500 per month or more on Uber, Lyft and other public transportation options, we've had the long-suffering conversation that may or may not solve all of our problems: getting a car. But because shopping for some new wheels take a hell of a lot of effort and doesn't always lead to the best option, we've talked to a few people who gave us some tips to follow.
Since we're so nice here at FHM, we figured we'd share what we've learned thus far in our used car quest, hopefully, making it easier for you if and when you're in the same position.
Weigh The Alternatives
As mentioned above, between my girlfriend and I, we're easily spending over $500/month on public transportation. And while that's, arguably, the most efficient way to get around since it eliminates parking, gas, insurance and all that other stuff that adds up, having a car to use to get around town for ourselves is probably the easiest. While looking at cars, make sure to weigh the positives and negatives of the situation, because, sometimes, it'll lead to more hassle than you want to deal with.
The last thing any guy wants to be is taken advantage of, so make sure you do due diligence and take some time to compare prices of similar makes, models and cars in the same class with comparable mileage. For instance, if you're looking at a midsized SUV like a 2010 Audi Q3 with 80,000 miles on it for $18,000, make sure you don't come across a 2013 BMW X1 with 90,000 miles on it for $25,000. While the Beemer carries prestige because of its name, is it really enough to make a $7,000 impact? Probably not. Hence, that Q3 might be too good to be true.
Understand What Certified Pre-Owned Really Means
While it might sound appealing to get a used car on the cheap, it's critical in your search to know the difference between a used car and a certified pre-owned (CPO) car. While both have some mileage on them, a CPO differs from other used cars because they've been inspected, refurbished, and certified by a manufacturer, making it a, somewhat, safer bet to purchase. In addition to the additional TLC, these types of cars also typically include an extended warranty and other benefits like exclusive financing options.
This should absolutely be a no-brainer. Look, you're not going to take a girl out on a date without talking to her first, right? Well, that's an investment of about $50 and an hour of your life, not thousands of dollars and 15 minutes. Test driving a car will give you a feel for the handle and overall condition it's in. As an additional tip, while riding around in it, remember to do so with the radio off, which will help you hear anything that may sound funky when you make a turn, hit a pothole or run the air conditioner.
Personally speaking, I can live with a little dink or dent, seeing as how I'm not really the most boujis person on the planet. However, anything more than that—especially around key areas like parts or the engine—you may be in for big trouble down the road. As for interior, make sure you inspect it as thoroughly as possible without coming across as an OC neat freak using a microscope. Anything that might look discolored, torn or have a stench is an absolute no-go.
Is there anything you can think of that's better when it leaks? Probably not, and, if so, a car is absolutely not one of them. As a test, while test driving a car, get yourself to a clean area, get out, and let the car run for 45-60 seconds. Move the car away from where it was just parked and see if anything is wet underneath where it used to be. If so, take it back to the dealership and politely say they have an issue that needs to be fixed before anyone will buy it, because that could be a potential big problem.
Check The CarFax
Those commercials with the fox might be annoying, but, hopefully, they won't make you stubborn enough to ignore the fact that the car you're looking at has history, so you need to be aware of what that history is. Checking the CarFax is completely free, and will go a long way in helping you decide whether the routine checkups the car had were on schedule, or if you should balk because the car had a major accident and reconstructive repair.
Even after doing the research and going through the necessary process before purchasing, a car is never fool-proof—especially when previously owned—so make a decision and stand by it. While no one wants to get burned, it'll sting more if you skipped some of the aforementioned steps because you fell in love with a make/model and ignored the smaller details. Like dating a woman, it's not what's on the outside of a used car that's all clean and shiny, it's what's underneath and inside that really counts.