By Justin Stoltzfus
used car buying tips
There's a lot involved in buying any car. But when you're buying a used car, it is especially important to consider some of the biggest choices you will confront when looking for a new set of wheels, either from a dealership or in a private party sale.

Look for the Car You Want

Before you start shopping, you'll want to figure out the year, make and model you are looking for. You'll also want to think about other practical things like miles per gallon and mileage. With used cars, factory features may or may not work, so think about which features you must have (air conditioning is a big one, along with a working audio system). Factor all of these things into your search to narrow the field a bit, then take a look at CLEARBook values for used cars to know what you can expect in terms of price.

Look for a "Clean Deal"

With a pre-owned car, there's always the potential to get stuck with a lemon. Vehicles are large assets, and as with any other expensive purchase, fraud is a risk. Check the Vehicle Identification Number (the "VIN number") to make sure it matches the title. With a private party sale, make sure there are no liens on the title and look for a "salvage title" that indicates the car may have been previously wrecked or flooded. It's also a good idea to get a full history report from Carfax or some other comprehensive report on the car before purchasing.

Look for Insurability

Another thing customers should think about when buying a used car purchase is how a specific vehicle will get covered by a car insurance company. One problem with the salvage title mentioned above is that these vehicles may be very hard to insure due to past damage. You might also pay more on an insurance policy for a vehicle without modern safety features or one that is considered a "most-stolen" model in your neighborhood. To understand more about the insurability of a vehicle up front, call your insurance company and ask about estimates prior to making the deal.

Negotiating a Price

Along with these three important concerns, price is also obviously a big issue. Always check comparative values to make sure you're not overpaying for a used car and talk frankly with the dealer or other seller about what the car is worth to them and to you. Make sure the price you've agreed on is a "final price" and won't be pushed up thousands of dollars by fancy-sounding service and processing fees.

Liberty Mutual's Car Buying Program can help you avoid pitfalls in used car pricing and make the buying process much easier. We've partnered with TrueCar, a renowned vehicle sales analyst, to offer our customers used car discounts on most inventory. Taking advantage of this service can help you walk away from a used car deal with more money in your pocket to take care of any expenses down the road.

See what others paid for the car you want with the Liberty Mutual Car Buying Program powered by TrueCar and get dealer pricing information on new and used cars without leaving home. Using the Car Buying Program, customers have saved an average of $3,221 off MSRP on new cars1 and the Certified Dealers are dedicated to providing you with a hassle-free car buying experience. See how much you can save.

1 Between 4/1/14 and 6/30/14, the average estimated savings off MSRP presented by TrueCar Certified Dealers to users of TrueCar powered websites, based on users who configured virtual vehicles and subsequently purchased a new vehicle of the same make and model listed on the certificate from Certified Dealers, was $3,221, including applicable vehicle specific manufacturer incentives. Your actual savings may vary based on multiple factors including the vehicle you select, region, dealer, and applicable vehicle specific manufacturer incentives which are subject to change. The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price ("MSRP") is determined by the manufacturer, and may not reflect the price at which vehicles are generally sold in the dealer's trade area as not all vehicles are sold at MSRP. Each dealer sets its own pricing. TrueCar does not broker, sell or lease motor vehicles.

Guaranteed Savings not available in all states. In these states a Target Price is shown, which is market-based example of what you can reasonable expect to pay for your vehicle as configured. Your configured vehicle may not be available of in-stock at the Certified Dealer.

You need not be a Liberty Mutual policyholder in order to be eligible for this offer.

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