Due to the rising cost of new vehicles, many people, especially those with poor credit, find themselves turning to the used car market for their next purchase. This is a good option, but it can also pose a problem if you're not prepared to be thorough when you're picking out your used vehicle.

Don't Forget a Pre-Purchase Inspection

Pre-Purchase Inspections Are Key When Buying a Used CarWhen it's time to pick out your next car, you may be limited by your credit if you need an auto loan. If you're not in a good place with your credit, getting a car loan often means being approved by a subprime lender, and chances are you're likely to have more vehicles to choose from if you opt for a used car.

Used vehicles are good options when it comes to getting an affordable car, but you need to take extra time to make sure it's a reliable one as well. Something that's vital when you’re getting a used vehicle is the pre-purchase inspection.

A pre-purchase inspection can tell you things that you wouldn't normally be able to find out just by driving a car. Even if the vehicle runs and has been patched up for sale, it doesn't mean there aren't mechanical issues under the hood. A trained technician should be able to provide you the peace of mind you need to move forward with confidence.

In your walk-around, you should pay close attention to all the aspects of the car that you can see and be hyperaware while you're on a test drive. However, you can only see so much from this perspective as a buyer if you have an untrained eye. This is why having a certified mechanic take a look can really help.

What many people don't realize, though, is that most dealerships are more than happy to allow you to take a vehicle for a professional pre-purchase inspection with an independent mechanic. In fact, they often send a dealer rep with you to get this done.

Any dealership that refuses to let you take a car for an independent pre-purchase inspection should be handled with caution. In fact, when it comes to used vehicles, this should be considered a deal breaker.

Taking a Thorough Test Drive

Taking a car to a mechanic for inspection is an important part of the used vehicle buying process, but so is your test drive. Here are a few things you should remember to check when you're out and about on a test drive:

  • Check your seats. This doesn't mean that you're just getting in a seat and seeing how comfortable it is to sit in, which is still a big consideration in car buying, but look closer. Check that everything about the seats work, including any heating, cooling, memory, and mobility controls for both the driver and passenger seats. Ensure that the headrests can be moved, that the seats slide forward and back with ease, and that the seat belts lock and unlock properly.
  • Test all the controls. Now is the time to be like a kid in a candy store: it's OK to touch everything. Turn all the knobs, press all the buttons, roll down all the windows, pop the trunk and the hood, and open all the doors. Turn on the radio, infotainment, and navigation systems, but make sure that you check them while you're stopped; playing with the radio while test driving a vehicle down the highway isn't a wise idea.
  • Listen to the car. This means keeping the radio off while you're on the road for your initial drive. Take the vehicle on as many types of roads as you can and see how it handles, as well as how it sounds. It's also a good idea to leave distractions such as talking salespeople to a minimum. If they’re constantly trying to talk over the sounds you're listening for, you might be wise to use caution. Pro tip: ask the salesperson to sit in the back seat so you can get a feel for the car without them talking in your ear.
  • Check the outside of the vehicle carefully. Not only should you be noting any dents, dings, and scratches, you should look for inconsistencies in paint, make sure there are no rust spots hidden anywhere, and ensure all the parts and pieces outside the car work and are in acceptable condition. This means making sure headlight casings aren't cloudy, checking that all doors open properly from the outside, and checking wheels and tires to see that everything looks and feels like it should.

Once you're thoroughly satisfied that you've found the vehicle for you, have taken your test drive, and brought it to an independent mechanic for a pre-purchase inspection, it's time to start your auto loan process.

From Test Drive to Road Ready

If you're a borrower with bad credit, you're most likely to find the type of deal you're looking for if you start the process at a special finance dealer which is signed up with lenders who can work with poor credit. These dealerships aren't always easy to find if you don't know where to look. Fortunately, Auto Credit Express has cultivated a nationwide network of these dealers, and we want to help get you connected to one in your area.

The process is fast, free, and without obligation. All you have to do to get started is fill out our online car loan request form. After you do, we'll work to match you to a special finance dealership near you.