Buying a used car for the graduate? How-to guides to get the best deals

With graduations looming, many proud parents and grads are thinking about a used car purchase in the near future. Buying a used car is always tricky, but the growth of the internet has given purchasers a wide variety of new tools to make sure that everyone walks away happy. This article from Smart Money gives a variety of helpful tips and useful advice if you’re planning to buy from a used car dealer and this one from MSN Money should be required reading if you’re planning to buy from a private party via Craigslist. For the mechanically inclined, Popular Mechanics has a useful 10 point buyer checklist to keep in mind — and don’t forget to avoid common used car scams.
It’s always a good idea to check the price of a car you’re considering against the Kelley Blue Book value, easily done on their website. Remember that price can be different in different parts of the country, and experts advise doing a Craigslist check on similar cars in your area to get a feel for local prices even if you’re buying from a dealership. Edmunds is one of the best online sources for used car information (new cars, too) and they have a recent article on buying a used car for under $2500. One point the experts all agree with is spending an extra $35 or so to get a carfax report on any car you’re seriously considering.
Of course, you may not have your computer when you’re shopping. There are car-buying apps for that. Edmunds has a highly recommended app for iPads, iPhones and Droids as does Kelley Blue Book that can instantly give you the estimated value and reviews on any car — and with an app like Craigslist Finder, you’ll be notified whenever the car of your dreams comes up for sale.
Once you have the car, it will need insurance and the way you approach that may vary depending on whether your student is a high school or college grad. Laws vary in each state and insurance companies also differ in their rules, but for the most part, children can only be covered by their parents’ policy if the parents’ home is their primary address. Some insurers offer exceptions if students will be away at school, but others won’t insure a car if it is garaged in another state. You’ll also want to check with your agent – depending on the circumstances, there may be multi-vehicle discounts if the child is insured on your policy; the student may also qualify for a Good Student Discount or for safe driver training program that will enable a discount. There’s a lot to consider and a lot of variables – your independent insurance agent can help you make the right decision.

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