Tips for College Grads Buying a Used Car

So, you’re done with college, maybe landed a job, and looking to buy a car to help you conveniently commute to and from work. Perhaps you’re considering getting a used car since that’s within your budget. After all, you can opt for a certified pre-owned one at a budget-friendly price.

But you aren’t sure if you can get financing since you have a minimal credit score. You don’t have to worry because we can help make buying a car easier and ensure you purchase your ideal used vehicle soon. The following are some tips you can consider to help you with your car buying process in Cleveland. 

Establish a Working Budget

When preparing a car budget, it’s essential to factor in how much you’re likely to spend on the initial purchase and car expenses after getting your car. These expenses may include car insurance, fuel costs, and regular maintenance. You can do an internet check on car insurance agencies with favorable rates to roughly figure out how much you may pay in insurance premiums.

Establishing a working budget can help determine how much you can spend on a car. To come up with a budget for your used car, you can do the following:

  • calculate the total monthly income you’re receiving from your place(s) of employment and any other sources of income you may have, such as a side hustle.
  • list your monthly expenses, such as rent, food, and utilities.
  • subtract your monthly payments for your expenses from your total income.

The amount you have left is what you can comfortably spare for your car purchase. This amount determines whether you can make a one-time payment for your car or if you’ll need other purchasing options.

Know Your Credit Score and Purchasing Options

Your credit score determines how much you may access for a car loan if you need financing to make a purchase. A higher credit score means you can receive more for a car loan. Chances are you’re still building your credit score as a college graduate, which may mean you have a minimal credit score. Low credit shouldn’t discourage you from applying for a car loan or seeking leasing options. The following purchasing options for a car include:

  • Car loans or financing: This includes buying a car with the help of funding from lending institutions like credit unions or dealerships. With car financing, you pay for the total cost of the vehicle plus interest on the loan over several months. You may also need to make a down payment on the car before loan approval.
  • Car leasing: Leasing involves renting a car for a certain period while adhering to dealership rules, such as regular maintenance and mileage caps. These rules ensure that you return your vehicle in good condition to the dealership. It’s possible to own the car at the end of your lease by paying the difference between the total lease payments and the actual vehicle value.

Narrow Down Your Options

When you purchase a car, selecting a vehicle that caters to your needs and preferences, including factors like height, is key. If you’re tall, you may need a car with plenty of headroom and legroom for comfort. Or you may need a van that can handle food transportation needs if you’re looking to go into a business like catering. You can also factor in the car’s fuel economy to avoid buying a fuel guzzler, which may be expensive in the long run due to fuel costs.

Conduct Research on the Used Car You Want

Researching safety, performance, and technology features will help you know your desired vehicle’s functionality and performance. The best places to conduct this research include factual sites like government websites and other sources that publish unbiased information. For example, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is one option you can look at for information. You can also seek reviews from unbiased motor sites to know the pros and cons of your desired vehicle.

Check the Vehicle’s History

A used car had a previous owner, and it’s great to know what the car went through under their care through a vehicle history report. The vehicle history shows any accident reports, maintenance records, and an ownership report in case it had more than one previous owner. You can check the vehicle history report online by inputting the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) to receive a complete report.

Conduct an Inspection

After checking the vehicle history, ensure that you inspect its parts and systems. An inspection helps you spot any issues that may be costly to fix, such as faulty engine parts. If you’re not conversant with vehicles and their components, consider tagging along with a friend who’s well versed in cars or, better yet, go with a technician you trust. Technicians know what to inspect and can tell you how much the repairs will cost.

Test Drive the Car

The final tip is going on a test drive where you’ll feel the car’s handling capabilities. Please pay attention to how soon it stops when you step on the brakes, and also listen for any vehicle noises while driving. Ensure you use all possible terrains the car manufacturer states it can handle. You can drive on Cleveland highways and attempt parallel parking on city roads to confirm its functionality. Looking out for these factors while driving helps ensure you don’t buy a faulty car.

Purchase a Used Car at North Coast Auto Mall of Cleveland

At North Coast Auto Mall of Cleveland, we understand the need to get a car that’ll serve you as a college grad as you begin a new phase of life. Our broad selection of used vehicles will meet your needs and preferences. Don’t worry if you have low credit, as we have flexible auto financing options that’ll suit your car ownership plan. To get pre-qualification for our auto financing, you can complete our finance application form, and our team members will get in touch with you soon.

After your car purchase, our well-equipped service center certified technicians could help you fix any repairs and ensure that you leave in a fully functional vehicle. You may also visit our service center for occasional routine maintenance and repairs to ensure your car retains its optimal performance. Do you have any queries regarding our inventory or financing options? Contact us for clarification, and our customer service team will get back to you.