In today’s economy, everybody wants to spend wisely and get the most for what they buy. Maybe this is why so many are turning toward purchasing used vehicles rather than new. If you have never purchased a used vehicle before, there are some easy tips to follow so that you can make a wise decision and can take home something of the best quality. 1. Matching Your Car To Your Lifestyle – Before you hit the sales lot in search of your perfect vehicle, make a list ahead of time sketching out your lifestyle and what type of vehicle would most fit it. Do you have children and car seats that need to be easily accessed? Are you adventurous and want something that can take you off road and through all sorts of conditions? What about color? If you live in a hot climate, black is probably out of the picture. What color appeals the most to you or is it important? What types of features do you really love in a car and can’t live without? Vehicles come with plenty of features such as: Cup holders, ashtrays, leg room, sunroof, sound, having everything automated, tires – figure out ahead of time what it is you absolutely love and what you can live without. 2. Are You Buying A Certified Car – If you are looking to buy a certified car, do your research ahead of time. If you see on a vehicle “certified used” or “certified pre-owned,” it means that cars feature warranties that extend beyond the initial “when new” coverage. For a vehicle to qualify to be a “certified used” vehicle, the warranty must be backed by the original vehicle manufacturer. When the manufacturer backs the vehicle it is using its dealer network to inspect the car, determine if it is worth certifying and offer support for the vehicle for a period of time beyond the original warranty. Not all used cars can qualify for certified pre-owned programs, and terms vary from one brand to the next, but any true certified pre-owned program will include at least a 100-point inspection of the car. Make sure the manufacturer — and not just the local dealer — is offering the certification. That way you know the CPO car meets the manufacturer’s stringent certified requirements, and you’ll be able to have your vehicle serviced at locations nationwide. 3. Vehicle History – You have probably seen the commercials where the individual is selling their car that could have been ruined by a flood and yet rather than confess the damage, they comment that it has had miner water damage. To find out a vehicle’s true history, the best way is to use Carfax. To use carfax, you will need the vehicle’s identification number or VIN number. Carfax’ history dates back to 1986 when it worked closely with the Missouri Automobile Dealers Association, providing vehicle history reports to the dealer market. By the end of 1993, Carfax obtained title information from nearly all fifty states. With the largest automobile database, the company offered all consumers the same instant access to vehicle history reports that auto dealers, banks and other businesses were already subscribed to. Carfax can provide you with a ton of information on the vehicle you are looking at, letting you know whether it has been in a wreck or damaged then repaired, how many people have owned it, what types of major repairs it has had and more. While you never can be 100% sure about the accuracy of the Carfax information, it well may be worth $30 to find out what is listed. More information is always better when you are buying a car. 4. Check Your Credit Score – Before making a purchase, know how much you can afford. Check on your credit score or you can even call your bank and get preapproved for a loan. Knowing where you stand will give you a heads up on what kind of loan you can qualify for before you start shopping. Simultaneously, you will also want to weigh what kind of payment you can afford. Vehicle loans are typically for three to five years and interest rates vary according to your credit score. There are many online calculators to help you estimate what your payment might be based on estimated current vehicle interest rates and length of loan. Being prepared ahead of time with what you know you can afford will help you keep focused on what type of vehicles to look at and test drive. You certainly don’t want to get your heart set on something out of your budget and yet you want to buy something that fits your life style. 5. Do Some Price Comparisons – Before you even step foot on the car lot, do your homework on which car you might be leaning toward and what it will cost. This will give you a base idea of how to compare apples to apples. Good online sources for vehicle value are Kelley Blue Book Used Car Values or even local classifieds. Remember that these tools will give you only averages and will have to take into consideration the vehicle’s condition, mileage, optional equipment and other factors. Taking the time to do your homework will help you ensure that you are making the best decision when purchasing your next used vehicle.