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Money-Saving Strategies: How to Buy Used Car After an Accident

Submitted by pec on

If your car was totaled after an accident, you may be overwhelmed by having to buy a new one. Buying a car is never fun, especially when it’s something you have to do quickly because your existing car is gone and you have to be able to get to work, school, and other places.

One of the biggest challenges of buying a car after an accident is that the money you received for the totaled vehicle may be less than you spent on the car in the first place. That will leave you even less money to buy another car. But with some expert advice and a little research you can get a great car without having to break the bank. Use these tips to set a budget, save money, and find the perfect car:

Determine Your Budget

Before you start shopping for a new car you need to assess your current financial situation. Do you have enough money to buy a new or used car outright? If not, make sure you have a copy of your credit report so you can check your credit score. You may want to apply for a car loan from your bank or credit union instead of going through a high-interest lender. Look at all of your options for financing. When you are setting a realistic budget for a new car take into account the cost of insurance, taxes, gas, and maintenance as well as the monthly cost of the car payment.

Research and Vehicle Selection

One of the most important steps in buying a car is determining what type of vehicle is best for your budget, your lifestyle, and the climate where you live. For example, buying a convertible if you live in a place with snowy winters is a bad choice. So is buying a sports car if you have small children. Identify your priorities for a vehicle like safety, size, gas efficiency, and cost. Then look for used cars that fit those criteria.

Vehicle History Reports

Once you find some vehicles that you’re interested in you should always pull vehicle history reports on those vehicles. Vehicle history reports will tell you if the car has had any major mechanical failures or accidents, what work has been done on the car, and any other important facts about the car. You can use the car’s VIN number to pull vehicle history reports from sites like Carfax.com or Bumper.com. Make sure you look at the car’s title information, maintenance records, and accident history. Never buy a car with a missing or rebuilt title. You will need the original title to register the car.

Financing and Interest Rates

Financing a used car can be tougher than financing a new car, so keep in mind that you will need to be sure your credit score is good to get a good interest rate. Always compare options and never take the first auto loan you are approved for. Compare interest rates and overall interest paid. Don’t just look at the monthly payment. Putting down a hefty down payment will lower the amount of money that you need to borrow and your monthly payment.

Negotiation Strategies

When you buy a used car you should always negotiate the price. Research the car’s value so that you know what the car is worth. Use that to negotiate the price down. And never be afraid to walk away from a bad deal or a price that is too high. There are always other cars out there.

Vehicle Inspection and Test Drive

Always have a vehicle you’re considering buying inspected by a mechanic you trust before you buy it. And always take a test drive where you can put the car through all its paces, including highway driving. That way you can be sure the car is safe and evaluate the car’s comfort and performance.

Vehicle Price vs. Total Cost of Ownership

Before you agree to buy a car look at all the numbers on paper. Calculate the true cost of the vehicle, which includes the insurance, fuel, and maintenance as well as the monthly payment and interest. Make sure that the car makes financial sense before you sign on the dotted line.


Don’t rush into buying a car just because you need a new car. Take your time so that you don’t make a bad purchase. Make sure you understand the full cost of the car, and that you have gotten the best deal on financing. That way you can save money and get a car that will be safe, reliable, and last for years.