By: William McKeever (December 3, 2019)

It’s that time of year again when holiday shopping can drive you into a maddening stupor. Nowhere is that truer than when you are out holiday car shopping. Those looking to save big money on used vehicles have been comparing deals all year long. But how do you know that you are getting the best deal for your dollar? Here are five tips to look for when you’re out braving the holiday season in search of the perfect used car.

Do your research on the dealership
Sadly, the stereotype of the swindling used car salesman evolved from a genuine problem in the late 70s and early 80s. However, cars have since upgraded and the surrounding technology along with it. Find out how long the company has been in business. Try to avoid dealerships that haven’t been in business over a year and haven’t developed a community history yet. Look up the dealership’s ratings and reviews on google and social media. You can learn a lot about a company by the way it treats its customers. However, don’t be discouraged by a negative review or two. The good reviews should always outweigh the bad ones, but if this isn’t the case, then it’s a good sign that you should be looking for another dealership.

See the Carfax
Choose a dealership that offers a Carfax vehicle history report. This report should be free and will tell you everything you need to know about the background of the vehicle. With a Carfax, you can search by the VIN or license plate numbers of the used car you want. The report will tell you about any accidents and how many previous owners, including whether the owners were private citizens or corporations. The Carfax report will also indicate if there were any damage or repairs to the vehicles, as well as the number of service history records available.

See the vehicle and test drive
If you are looking at a specific car online, make sure you can see the same vehicle in person. If you call a dealership and they tell you that the vehicle you are looking for is available, stop in and get a visual inspection of the vehicle. Online photos can inadvertently leave out a myriad of details because of poor lighting or camera angles. When choosing a dealership online, pick one that allows for multiple images of the vehicle. Next, make sure you test drive before you buy it. Just because that beautiful used car looks fantastic, doesn’t mean it will be a good fit for you.         

Have confidence in your salesperson
There are a lot of salespeople in the used vehicle industry. Most of them have your best interest at heart, but there are still some that want to make a quick commission. When evaluating your salesperson, make sure that you have a good rapport with them. Let them know what you are looking for and what your needs are. A great salesperson will work with you to find a vehicle that is a great fit. For instance, if you tell your salesperson that you require a minivan for your family and they try to convince you to buy that sports car, you are better off looking elsewhere.

See what financing options are available
Having good credit is vital when looking for a quality used vehicle. Not only will it help you secure a lower interest rate, but it will also give you more options when choosing a car. However, if your credit score isn’t the best, don’t be discouraged. There are plenty of reputable dealerships that would be willing to work with you. In that case, you want to find one that has a variety of financing lenders available. Most financing companies will be ready to work with you even if you have less than desirable credit. However, be prepared to bring a larger down payment to secure the vehicle you want.

Shopping for a used car during the holidays is like shopping for anything else. To make it a little more relaxed, remember:
•    Do your research
•    See the Carfax
•    Test Drive
•    Make sure your salesperson understands you
•    Look at financing options.