No previously owned vehicle is the same. Even if they are the same make and model, all used cars have different histories, which can work in your favor or be your worst nightmare. The history of a used vehicle can make the buying process especially tricky. To get the best deal on a used Volkswagen, your first decision should be to buy from Bachman. Then keep in mind the next three tips before purchasing the car you’ve worked so hard for.
#1) Set A Smart Budget
The most important thing when buying a vehicle, or making any large investment for that matter, is to set a smart and realistic budget. Chances are when creating this budget, you will be budgeting for an auto loan. If this is the case, focus on how much you can afford on monthly payments.
Also, the general rule is that you shouldn’t spend more than 15% of your monthly income on car payments. Remeber that the larger down payment you can put on a vehicle, the better. This will mean the loan you take out will be for less, the interest rates may be lower, and you will have fewer total payments in the long run. The DMV has great tips and further information for setting a budget for a car.
#2) Obtain The VIN
This is the car’s vehicle identification number and is like the car’s fingerprint. Every car has a different 17-character VIN. The VIN displays the car’s unique features, specifications, and manufacturer and can be used to track recalls, registrations, warranty claims, thefts, and insurance coverage.
If the VIN is less than 17 characters long, it is likely a vehicle manufactured prior to 1981 when VIN lengths varied from 11-17 characters long. The VIN is usually located on the dashboard of the driver’s side and can be easily viewed by looking at it from the outside where the dashboard meets the windshield. It may also be found on the insurance card/policy or vehicle title and registration. AutoCheck gives you access to a free vehicle search by entering the VIN.
#3) Schedule A Test Drive
It might seem obvious, but the last step before you buy any car should be to schedule a test drive. Whether you find a used vehicle you want to purchase through online research or in person research at a dealership, always give the car a test drive before signing anything. When going for a test drive keep the following in mind.
- Look around the exterior to check that the paint is the same hue from panel to panel
- Turn the car on and then step outside of the vehicle to listen to the engine and check to see if all lights work properly
- Check the tires and under the vehicle to see if anything is hanging or fluid is leaking
- Adjust the seat, steering wheel, and mirrors to make sure they adjust to your needs
- Check to see if interior lights and dashboard lights work properly
- Make sure all audio systems you will utilize work properly. Check the radio, CD, AUX cord, and Bluetooth functions
- Test out heating and air functions and speeds
- Check functions for windows, sliding doors, moon roofs, etc
When you actually begin to drive the vehicle, check for the following:
- Listen for any rattling or unexplained noises in the engine and everywhere else in the vehicle when you start it and through turns and stops
- Keep an eye on the instrument panel behind the steering wheel to see if gauges are working properly
- Make sure the brakes work properly. The car should glide to a stop in a straight line and should never pull slightly to a particular side
These tips will help you begin your journey to buying a used car. If you’re looking to sell your current vehicle before buying another one, check out our Bachman Buys program. Our team will lead you through the entire process and minimize the pains of selling the vehicle on your own. We do everything for you including appraising the car’s value and making repairs the car may need. Then you can use the money from the trade-in on your new-to-you vehicle! This what you can expect a typical transaction to look like when you buy from Bachman. If you’re in the market for a Volkswagen, search our pre-owned VW’s and schedule a test drive.