How to Find Good Used Cars

Getting a used car can actually get you a great car for less. But there are also some risks that you have to watch out for, which is why we’re here to help you decide if you’re getting the right used car for a good price! 

  1. Set your budget whether it be cash, finance or BHPH (this helps determine which dealers to look at)
  2. Choose the right car (You can find used cars through websites such as 5miles, Facebook, CarMax, AutoTrader, Craigslist and more)
  3. Price the cars
  4. Carefully inspect the car
  5. Go for a test drive
  6. Check out the car’s history
  7. Negotiate the best price


Double-check the MSRP of the car

This should always be the first step when it comes to buying a car. You should at least have an idea of how much the car costs. You also want to make sure you get as much information about the car as possible. This includes make, model, year, mileage, options, and the overall condition of the car. You can find this information using car database websites such as Kelley Blue Book or Edmunds

If you decide to purchase a vehicle for the best possible price, then you would most likely turn to a private seller since dealerships need to make a profit. Purchasing from a dealership means you would have to pay additional fees such as TTL (Tax, Title, and License). Consider the fact that private sellers are most likely selling their old car to buy a new car so they would try to get the vehicle sold as quickly as possible. 


Carefully inspect the car (You will need to arrange a meeting with the dealer/seller)


Here’s how you can do a DIY inspection of a used car:


You can start with getting an OBD2 Scanner which you can easily find on Amazon

These scanners can read any cars from 1996 – present. Most cars will have a plug you can plug the scanner into under the dash. Once it’s plugged in, start the car and the next thing you want to do is see if there are any codes in your car. On your OBD2 Scanner, there should be an option that allows you to read codes. If there are no codes then the car is fine. However, if there are any trouble codes that means there’s a problem with the car. 


The next thing you want to check with the OBD2 Scanner is the Drive Cycle Monitor. Again, if there are no problems then it’s ok. However, if it indicates that some of the monitors were not ok yet, then you wouldn’t want to buy the car. 


Check the bottom of the car

The first thing you want to do is check if there are any oil leaks coming from the car. If there aren’t any, then the next step would be to jack up the car. You can learn a lot by doing this. You want to check out the CV joints to make sure they’re not ripped. Also, double-check the bottom of the engine and transmission to make sure there are not any leakages. While the car is jacked up, you can check out the tires to make sure that there’s no suspension where the tire will wobble back and forth. 


Check for body damage

This part requires a lot of attention to detail to make sure that your car hasn’t had any accidents or dings. The first thing you want to do is open the hood of the car and then slam it shut. Then, you want to look at the seam of the hood the whole way around and make sure everything is aligned. If everything is fine, then you know the hood hasn’t been crumpled. Then do the same thing on all the door seams and on the trunk to make sure it hasn’t been rear-ended. Pay extra attention to the factory seams in the trunk, these are a major indication if the car has been rear-ended or not. Also, make sure to check if the spare tires and tools are still intact. Check if the spare-tire well for water or rust. 


One of the best ways to check if the car has been dinged or not is to check the reflection. By carefully 

looking at the reflection of the body of the car, you will be able to spot if the car has been dinged in any spots. Inside the car, use your nose as well as your eyes. You can smell and look for signs of water entry. Look to see if the carpeting feels or wet or even smells musty. 


If you follow all of these steps carefully and find anything wrong with the car, you’ll then be able to negotiate a cheaper price for the car. After the end of your DIY inspection, it is always best to bring it to a pro-auto mechanic to double-check for anything you might have missed. 


Go for a test drive


While going for a test drive make sure to check that everything is going smoothly. This includes:


The car’s amenities

This includes the windows, seat adjustments, air conditioning, blinker lights, and steering. Pay extra attention to the steering wheel, is the vehicle responsive? Good steering should feel smooth and comfortable. It shouldn’t turn real fast that it feels jerky but it shouldn’t turn too slow for the car to maneuver. 



You should drive the car at a high speed of at least 55 mph. Try climbing up a steep hill as well. You shouldn’t feel any clunks or harsh, abrupt shifts. 


Check the brakes

How does the pedal feel? Do the brakes work smoothly? Make sure the brakes don’t produce any weird sounds.


When test driving, listen to the quietness when you drive, make sure you’re driving on the highway. Close all the windows and turn off the radio. You need to listen to the hum of the engine when you drive. If it’s too quiet, that means there might be something wrong with the engine. 


Check out the car’s history


Carfax is a great website to check out the history of the car to make sure there were no serious accidents that could have damaged the car. You can see all the repairs to make sure you are receiving a well-retained car.


Always consider a car’s age and mileage


It’s important to consider the relationship between how old a car is and how much mileage is put on it. The newer the car with lesser mileage, the more value that it has. On the flip side, if a newer car has more mileage, the car should have less value.


Negotiate the best price


After you have made sure that all the steps have been followed carefully. Then, it’s not time for you to negotiate the pricing of the car. Most importantly, make sure you are polite and respectful. Your goal is to buy the car at the price that you want. No one wants to make a deal with a rude and obnoxious buyer. By being a polite and respectful negotiator, you may be able to lower the price of the used car a lot more than you were expecting to. 


If you weren’t able to negotiate the price that you want or something felt off about the car, then don’t be afraid to walk away. It’s ok to say no. Don’t get attached to just that one car because there are so many more options out there for you to choose from. 


Check out 5miles Top 5 Dealerships


Top 5 Recommended Dealers

MEI/Automax Arlington – BHPH Focused 

Auto Merchants  – High quality

Quantum Auto Sales 

International Auto Sales – Finance

IMD MOTORS INC – Finance/ Cash


You can also click here to check out our Auto category!


Good luck car hunting 5milers!

How to Find Good Used Cars