Buying a used car is just a bit more complicated than buying a new one. Being an educated consumer will ensure that you make smart decisions and protect your rights. Here are a few tips for buying a used car in Massachusetts. Keep these in mind for your next car purchase.
1. Research Market Value
Used car prices can vary greatly. How will you know that you’re not overpaying for a car? It’s all about being an educated consumer. Thankfully, there’s an abundance of online resources available. Here are a few sites where you can estimate the value of a used car based on make, model, year, mileage, and condition:
Understanding car values will help you find the best deals and negotiate with prices with private sellers and/or car dealerships.
2. Evaluate Vehicle History
Buying a used car in Massachusetts with major issues can be expensive and lead to major headaches. To protect yourself, you should always evaluate vehicle history by obtaining the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). There are several sites where you can enter this information and receive a report on past maintenance, ownership history, and reported accidents. A few red flags to look for are major accidents and short ownership periods (someone quickly selling the car after owning it for a short period of time may be indication of problems with the car).
3. Review Financing Alternatives
You should always know what purchase price and interest rate you qualify for before shopping for a used car in Massachusetts. Keep in mind that some lenders offer a different rate for new versus used cars. The length of the loan (i.e. 5 years versus 7 years) can also impact the rate. Be sure to know what interest rate you are paying, rather than focusing solely on the monthly payment. Also, be sure to consider registration fees and sales tax in your cost calculations.
4. Understand the Fees
If you are purchasing a used car from a dealership, you will be presented with many different options such as tire warranties, extended vehicle warranties, and GAAP insurance. Before making a decision on these, make sure you know exactly what they cover. Sometimes it’s equally important to understand what those policies do NOT cover. Secondly, weigh the cost against the value. Lastly, compare it to the cost of alternatives (i.e. buying a warranty on your own or purchasing GAAP insurance from your MA auto insurance provider instead of the dealership).
5. Consider Logistics in Private Sales
If you are purchasing a car from a private seller, there are additional considerations. Find out if the current owner has the title in-hand. If the vehicle was financed, the lender may be in possession of the title. You cannot register the vehicle without the title, so it’s important to know this ahead of time. The seller will need to payoff the loan first before receiving that title. This could take some time. Consider meeting the seller at the lender’s office so that the loan can be paid with your funds and you can receive the title right away.
Summary of Tips on Buying Used Cars in Massachusetts
Knowledge is the key to being a smart consumer when it comes to buying used cars in Massachusetts. Do your research ahead of time and know your options. With the right knowledge, you will make better car buying decisions.
Don’t forget that car insurance is required in the state of Massachusetts. Get an insurance quote before you decide to purchase a used vehicle. Depending on the make/model and your driving history, some cars will be less expensive to insure than others. Call us for a free quote!