What to Look for When Buying a Used Car

Used Cars Parked in Lot
Buying a used car is a smart option for Northern Alabama drivers on a budget or if you’re just looking to save on your next ride. It’s good to go to a dealership you can trust when shopping for a used car in The Shoals, and that should mean Greenway of the Shoals is your first and last stop. But buying a used car is different than buying new, and you’ll want to keep some other things in mind. There are different questions you should ask and things you should look for when buying a used car.

Step One: Do Your Homework

Before you begin the used car shopping process, it is important to do a little research. Identify pre-owned vehicles that have a good reputation for longevity. That is a good starting point to help you narrow down your search. This is also a good time to make a list of important traits or features — fuel economy, mileage, towing capacity, Bluetooth — to help you find the right used car.

This is also a good time to figure out what your budget looks like. Once you have an idea of the kind of vehicle you want, the features you’re looking for, and your price range, it’s time to pick a few different models and go shopping.

Used Car With Price

Step Two: Inspect the Vehicle

At Greenway of the Shoals, we do thorough inspections of each used car before we put it up for sale, but you should always do a thorough inspection of any used car you’re considering. It’s good to look around inside and out, and to keep an eye out for the following:

  • How easily the doors and trunk open: If you meet resistance trying to open a door or the trunk lid, it could be a sign of damage from a collision that you can’t easily see.
  • Mismatched paint or paint overspray: Both of these can be signs of a collision followed by a sub-par repair job, or a seller who is trying to cover up corrosion or rust.
  • Rust: Older vehicles are more likely to have rust in places, and while it’s not always a deal-breaker for drivers, it’s something you should be aware of before looking at the car — discovering unexpected rust could be a warning sign.
  • Musty smell: This could be a sign of past water damage that wasn’t thoroughly cleaned out and taken care of.

Other things — cracked windshield glass, tires with low tread, worn upholstery — might be more obvious signs. All of these potential problems could be something you miss if you’re buying from an individual seller or an unscrupulous dealer. It’s why you should always try to shop for used cars from a dealership with a reputation you know and trust.

 Magnifying Glass Looking at a Car

Step Three: Consider the Mileage

While it used to be recommended that drivers try to buy low-mileage used cars — generally with less than 100,000 miles on the odometer — that is less of a rule with more modern vehicles. Thanks to advancements in automotive technology, cars are lasting longer than ever, especially if it’s built for day-to-day work like a pickup truck.

It’s important to consider mileage before you go shopping, but it’s just as important to re-consider it if you’ve found a vehicle you like.

  • Lower mileage might mean a used car is a bit more expensive than you wanted, but that could be worth it if it has everything else you’d like.
  • Higher mileage than you’d planned for could bring added savings or let you buy a used car with more of the features you want.



Close-up View of Odometer

Step Four: Check the Vehicle History

When you shop for a used car from an individual seller, you’ll need to do some detective work. Typically you can find a VIN decoder online to look up some basic facts about the vehicle and any potential recalls. Some services let you pay for a detailed vehicle history report as well.

Shopping for your next used car from a dealership like ours brings the peace of mind of a detailed vehicle history report.

Find Your Used Car at Greenway of the Shoals Today

At Greenway of the Shoals, we want you to feel confident in your used vehicle purchase, whether it’s from one of our dealerships in Florence, Sheffield, or Tuscumbia. Now that you know what to look for when buying a used car, you should be ready to find your next vehicle. Take a look at our selection of dependable used cars below, and contact us today to set up a test drive.

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