It’ll be OK. Really. Be brave. Shopping for used cars can be scary, but you can take that trip down to your nearby used car dealership. Of course, it always helps to be prepared for a journey of this magnitude. We know used car dealerships tend to have a reputation of that slimy salesman with greasy hair and a plaid sport coat who wants to sell you something that’s held together with duct tape and will likely drop the muffler the moment you drive off the lot. Fortunately, market Darwinism has weeded many of these guys out and you can confidently walk onto a used car lot and find a dependable used car for an affordable price. Yay capitalism!

That being said, you still need to do your research and be ready when buying a used car in the Boise, Idaho area. The more prepared you are, the better your car buying experience will be. Let’s run through some things that you should do before you invest in a used car.

Research Used Cars

Take advantage of the fact that we live in the information age and shop for used cars for sale near you online before you head to the lot. This can not only save you a ton of time but also makes it so that you look like you know what you’re doing when you get to the lot. (It’s always nice to create the illusion of confidence, right?)

By doing your research beforehand, you can get a good idea what kind of car is best for you. It would be a horrible waste of your time to spend hours wandering a used car dealership looking for a used truck only to find out that the best fit for you is a compact sedan. What body style, make, or model do you have in mind? Even if you can’t determine the make or model you have in mind, use your online resources to determine exactly what you’re looking for. This is an excellent place to start.

read reviewsRead Reviews

Another area to research is to find out what professionals and consumers have said about the cars in which you’re interested after they’ve spent time on the road. Manufacturers will give an excellent overview of the vehicle itself, but product review companies and owners will give honest ratings and reviews about things they have experienced firsthand with each used car you’re researching. This can help narrow your search based on the nuances of specific models.

Set a Budget

Unless you’re independently wealthy and your day job is just an obscure hobby, you’re going to need to figure out a budget. Most used car dealerships have a car payment calculator that can help you estimate what your monthly car payment will be based on the amount of money you finance for a used car.

Use this estimate to help you shop for a used car that fits within your price range. This will help you in your search by keeping your dreams realistic. It’ll ruin your day to have your heart set on a low-mileage Bentley Flying Spur, then you find out your budget is more in the range of an AMC Gremlin. That level of heartbreak would take a day or two and a few pints of ice cream to recover. Know your budget and shop within it.

research pricesResearch Prices

Once you find a used car you like, make sure to research a fair price for that vehicle. Naturally, used car dealerships are going to markup the price of used cars to make a profit. How much they markup that used car will vary. Used car price guides like Kelley Blue Book and NADA are excellent places to plug in the specs vehicle for which you’re shopping and get a good idea of what you should be paying in for used cars near you.

Plan Your Test Drive

You need to be more involved in buying your car than kicking the tires and sitting in the driver’s seat making engine noises. Take that bad boy for a spin. However, don’t just go joy riding, because there are a few things you’ll want to have in the back of your mind as you’re out on the road. Take special note of how the seat feels while you sit in it. Sit how you normally sit when you drive; don’t let the previous driver dictate how you ride. Be sure to listen to how the car shifts and feel how it drives. If you don’t like the way it handles during your first outing, you’ll probably hate it in six months.

Something small that can be easily overlooked is the amenities. Do you like that way the inside of the car is set up? Does it fit your lifestyle and daily drive? If you consistently drive to work sipping a cup of coffee, you’ll want to make sure your cupholders are sturdy and within reach. Make a meticulous list of things you’re looking for in a used car and go over each item as you drive. Don’t settle on what is likely to be one of the largest investments you’ll ever make. It’s OK to take your time with this one.

Once you’ve prepped for shopping, confidently visit a trusted nearby used car dealership to find your next used car. You can do it!