Ten Steps to the Perfect Car

Follow this Ten Step Plan for a no-hassle, used car buying experience.

Budget First

Most of us want our used car purchase to be as safe and reliable as possible for our individual needs. For young, working families, safety and reliability are top priority. A general guideline is to spend no more than 20 percent of your take-home pay. This range should allow you to find a reliable used car with approximately 20,000 miles. This mileage provides the security of reliability while reducing the cost of the car significantly. Crunch the numbers and set your payment limit. You'll be glad you did when the unexpected "rainy day" surprises you.

Narrow the Search

Ask yourself the right questions.
Answers to a few simple questions can easily narrow the field and provide the best used car options for your specific needs.

  • How many passengers will you have on a regular basis?
  • How long is your daily commute?
  • How important is fuel efficiency going to be?
  • What types of road conditions will your car need to be able to handle?
  • Do you need all-wheel drive?
  • What comfort and luxury features are the most important to you?
  • How much cargo space do you need? Do you travel much?
  • Will you be using children's car seats?
  • Will you be doing any towing?
  • How much garage or parking space do you have?

Verify Pricing and Check Reviews

Companies like kbb.com (Kelly Blue Book) provide a wide range of services that make valuing a car an easy process. KBB will provide the value of new and used cars as well as Trade-In and Private Party values. They also provide expert reviews, consumer reviews, vehicle history reports and safety & quality ratings.

Locating Vehicles

Begin searching for the cars on your target list using companies like autotrader.com, carfinder.com or Craigslist. You can filter the search by many factors including mileage, distance from your location, specific amenities on your wish list, and much more to find the exact vehicle you are looking for. Some may prefer to shop local and visit used car dealerships in nearby areas and check out the inventory first hand.

Vehicle History Report!!!

Before you contact a used-car seller, you should get a vehicle history report for the specific vehicle you're interested in buying. This is an important first step: If the report is negative, you should not proceed with the purchase of this car.

Contacting the Seller

Sellers may mention something that wasn't in the ad that might change your decision to buy the car. Make sure to have a list of questions handy when you're calling to prompt you to ask key questions. You will notice that the last question is the asking price. Although many people are tempted to negotiate even before they have seen the car, it's better to wait. Once you see the car, you can tie your offer to its condition level.


Test-driving a used car not only tells you if this is the right car for you but also if this particular car is in good condition. After the test-drive, ask the owner or dealer if you can see the service records to learn if the car has had the scheduled maintenance performed on time. Avoid buying cars that have been in major accidents.

Have the Car Inspected

If you like the way the car drives, you should have it inspected before you buy it preferably by a mechanic you know and trust. This will give you peace of mind if you decide to purchase the vehicle.

Negotiating the Price

Negotiating with a private-party seller can be a quick and fairly simple process. Negotiating with a used-car salesman will take longer and can be stressful. Forget about the asking price, offer what the car is worth based on market values. Rate the overall condition and start from there. Most car valuing sites have different base car values based on condition. Don't forget to subtract for high mileage and add for options.

Make A Deal

If you are at a dealership, you'll conclude the deal in the finance department. If you are buying a car from a private party, you just have to make sure that payment is final and that the seller properly transfers title and registration to you.


Charlton Motors and Public Auto Brokers

1425 Justin Road Ste 950
Directions Lewisville, TX 75077

  • Sales: (972) 200-9916
  • Service: (972) 332-3611
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