Most of us dread car shopping, and for good reason. Buying your next Subaru (or any car) can be a daunting task filled with questions. What car best suits your needs? How do you know it will be reliable? Are there hidden defects that affect the value or potentially make it unsafe? It’s easy to feel overwhelmed, so I’ve put together a short guide to help. Here are the four main steps I recommend you follow when looking at buying your next car (Subie or not):
- Learn local markets
- Check CarFax
- Have a reputable mechanic inspect the car
I can’t stress enough the importance of research before committing to buy a car. Spend time reading reviews through sites like Consumer Reports, CarGurus and Kelley Blue Book. These sites all have great resource for researching models, features and reviews on almost every model of car imaginable.
I always suggest giving your regular mechanic a call once you have narrowed your possibilities to a few makes and models. A good mechanic can give you valuable insight into the specific quirks and common issues of specific models. This can be very helpful in the decision-making process.
2. Learn Local Markets
Once you’ve whittled your list of possible cars down to two or three strong options, then it’s time to start researching what is actually available, and what you should expect to pay for it.
If you’ve already visited Kelley Blue Book‘s pricing tool, you may have a general ballpark. I also suggest hopping onto CraigsList or local dealers sites and looking at what similar cars are listed for. Just remember, the price that is advertised isn’t always the price it will sell for. If you’re savvy, you may be able to negotiate some of that down.
Doing this research now will give you a better understanding of what you should budget for when buying your next used Subaru.
3. Check CarFax
CarFax is a great resource for car shopping, especially once you’ve narrowed your list of prospects down to a couple strong options. I always suggest pulling the CarFax report for any car you’re about to buy. If you’re not familiar, CarFax is a service that compiles data from government agencies and repair facilities into a vehicle history report. It can show title transfer events (how many times the car has changed owners), flood and theft damage, accidents and even maintenance history.
In my experience, the information on a CarFax report is very accurate. However, its important to remember that the report may not have all of the car’s history. It’s common for cars to be repaired at shops that do not report to CarFax’s database. This could mean that car had accident damage repaired, with no red flags showing up on the report. This leads to my last point: get a mechanic to check the car out! A skilled technician will be able to see evidence of repairs and flaws whether or not they show on the CarFax report.
4. Have A Reputable Mechanic Inspect the Car
At this point, hopefully you’ve narrowed down your list to one or two good choices. Now it’s time to get your top choice inspected by a trained technician. If you have a regular mechanic you like, give them a call and ask if they would perform a ‘before you buy’ inspection. If you don’t have a good regular mechanic, start by looking online for highly rated mechanics in your area. I’d suggest looking for a specialist who works on the make of vehicle you’re looking to buy.
At Smart Service, we only service Subaru’s. Our technicians know every quirk and common flaw on every Subaru model, so we can pass that knowledge on before you buy. If you’re having us check out a Subaru for you, we’ll provide a digital report of everything we inspect, and spend as much time as you need answering questions. Make sure you come to us for an inspection before buying your next Subaru!
Now that you’ve had the car inspected, it’s time to close the deal. You can use the information gathered in the inspection to negotiate a lower price. If the car needs some repairs and deferred maintenance, it’s very reasonable to ask for a discount on the price. Once you and the seller settle the price, all that’s left it to finish the paperwork, grab the keys and take your new ride for a spin. Hopefully this guide helps you through the car buying process!