With the assistance of the internet, many people buying a used vehicle go out of town or even out of state to make their purchase. This can be a good way to find a far better vehicle than may be found locally, or, in many cases, a better overall deal in terms of vehicle, miles, and price.
The buyers may have the vehicles driven or even shipped to them, or they may travel to pick them up. This occurs far more commonly than many car buyers may realize.
Here, then, is a list of things you would need to know and/or have the dealer check prior to your purchase. It includes questions that will save time at delivery (if you have it delivered), prior to shipper pick up (if you have it shipped), or pick up (if you go to fetch it yourself).
By going through this process thoroughly, you may even discover something about the car that will change your mind, and you will opt out of the purchase.
Barring that, the items below must be discussed and researched prior to purchase—if for no other reason than that you have very little leverage, if any, once you’ve made your purchase.
Our car buying service ventures outside our clients’ immediate areas at least 50% of the time. If they live in New York or New Jersey, it is more like 90% of the time. One of many reasons for that is a vehicle in New York or New Jersey may have been used on less than ideal road surfaces (including, but not limited to, corrosive salt), or in frequent stop-and-go traffic, which shortens the life span of many parts prone to wear, such as rotors and brake pads, to name just a few.
What follows is a list of all the things a car buyer’s agent will check and double-check to complete a thorough assessment of a vehicle’s worthiness. You can use this list to craft a personalized checklist for your next used-car purchase.
Even if the vehicle will be purchased close to home, using this list and checking it twice will ensure efficiency and lowered stress at the time of purchase.
Here’s a real-life example of when and why someone might opt to buy a vehicle out of town. (The name has been changed for privacy.)
John Smith wanted a car buyer’s agent to help him find a used Toyota Land Cruiser for under $50,000 USD. His main requirements were color (white), condition of vehicle (impeccable), and lowest miles for the lowest possible price.
Well, Car Pal’s car buying service scoured every last corner of a 300-mile radius from his home near Washington, DC. Nothing. Then we went south, past North Carolina to South Carolina. Voilà, there was the perfect Land Cruiser (or so we thought). Preferred color, certified, low miles, and low price.
After Car Pal negotiated an even better price, Mr. Smith still was not satisfied with the price for what he would be buying. He felt we could do better.
Well, better we did indeed, and now we jump to the end of the story: We found the vehicle he ultimately purchased at a BMW dealership in El Paso, Texas.
Even with the cost of shipping included, that purchase saved Mr. Smith thousands of dollars.
Your time is valuable, so don’t wait to find out any of these things until scheduling a test drive. Finding out in advance will save you a lot of time and possibly save you from purchasing a vehicle that doesn’t meet your expectations.
Set your expectations high, leave nothing to chance, and assume nothing, while at the same time being reasonable enough to accept that the vehicle has been pre-owned, so it won’t be showroom perfect.
Readers (and you know this, or you would not be reading this blog post), a purchase of this size is an important investment. No, it’s not as big as purchasing a house, and there is far less paperwork to sign than when you purchase a home, but many consider it to be the second-largest purchase any of us are likely to make.
For that reason, you owe it to yourself to invest all the time you possibly can in making sure you make a sound decision.
It is an accomplishment in itself simply to decide what it is you want to purchase, let alone, then to conduct the proper investigations to determine if the vehicle is in reasonable condition and has been thoroughly inspected and attended to by the selling dealer or individual.
Again—and I repeat because it is so easy to overlook something given our busy lives—do not leave anything to chance and do not be trusting and hopeful just because you are a trusting and hopeful person.
Gather all the information you feel you require (even if you hire a car buyer’s agent, you will need to plan to invest a fair amount of time to research and study, so you can be supportive of your agent’s suggestions and advice).
Many buyers’ agents won’t even deal with pre-owned vehicles because there are exponentially more variables and concerns to evaluate in vetting a used vehicle properly.
Finally, please bear in mind that dealers may never acknowledge what a major purchase this is (after all, they sell these things every day, all day long), but for you, this is the one and only purchase you will make for years and years.
Therefore, don’t allow the dealer’s desire for a faster pace affect your need to slow the process down to the reasonable time period required to collect all the data you will need to make a sound and confident buying decision.