Buying a vehicle of any kind is never something to be taken lightly. Buying a luxury vehicle like a Lexus requires even more forethought and planning. A Lexus, even a pre-owned one, is a major investment, and as with any major investment, it pays to do your research first. While it might be nice to think that every pre-owned Lexus car is a dream and every pre-owned seller is a friend, life doesn't work that way. Go into the process without doing your homework first, and you're likely to come away from the deal with a lemon. Go into it as an informed and discerning buyer, and you're far more likely to walk away with the car of your dreams. Whether you're buying online or in person, from a dealership or a private seller, here's what you need to know about buying a pre-owned Lexus.
Work Out Your Budget
Before you do anything else, take the advice of yourmechanic.com and decide on your maximum budget. Pre-owned or not, Lexus' are luxury cars with the prices to match. The initial outlay alone can take a big bite from your savings, but you'll also need to factor in ongoing costs such as taxes, maintenance, servicing, finance charges, and other fees. Going into the process without working out exactly what you can afford could land you in a heap of trouble - after all, there's no point in having a fancy car parked up in your driveway if you can't afford to run it. Once you work out your budget, you'll be better primed to decide on exactly what kind of model and year to target.
Pick a Model
Once you have a good idea of your budget, spend some time working out your preferred model. Lexus has pumped out a good range of different models over the years, some of them suited to families looking for reliable daily riders, others targeted for the sportier market. Consider practical matters like cabin space and storage as much as aesthetics and style.
Research the Average Value
Now you've decided on your preferred model, plug the details into a site like Kelley Blue Book, Edmunds.com, or Cars.com to get an idea of the average market value. If you don't know what the average selling price is for that particular model, you'll have no idea if someone is trying to rip you off or not. As well as helping you avoid overpriced cars, it'll also help you sniff out potential lemons. If you see a car advertised several thousand below the average price, take it as a warning.
Choose a Seller
When it comes to pre-owned Lexus', you've got a few options. You can buy from a private seller, you can buy from a general dealership, or you can go the certified pre-owned (CPO) route. Private sellers can be risky: if they sell you a dud, you'll have less come back than if you bought from a dealership. That's not to say they should be avoided entirely - there's plenty of very reputable private sellers around - but it does mean you have to be extra-vigilant. Buying from a dealership offers you a certain level of protection if something goes wrong with the car, but be sure to check their reputation before committing to a deal.
For many people, certified pre-owned cars are the preferable way to go. Although they command a higher price than non-certified used cars, they come with an array of benefits that you won't get elsewhere. For a start, they can only be sold by Lexus dealerships, giving you extra security in case anything goes wrong. As per Lexus.com, to qualify as a CPO, all vehicles have to pass a vigorous, 161-point inspection. If any issues are identified during the inspection, they'll need to be rectified prior to the vehicle being advertised for sale. As an added benefit, CPOs come with a limited warranty, roadside assistance, and several other benefits. If you don't mind paying extra for peace of mind, they make an excellent choice.
Check the Service History
As northwestlexus.com says, 'knowing where it’s at is all about knowing where it’s been.' Once you've found a car you like the look of, ask to see the service history documentation. Check the history thoroughly for any red flags like major repairs or signs the car has been involved in an accident.
Arrange an Inspection
If you're spending a thousand dollars or less on a used car, you might consider buying sight unseen. But don't do this with a Lexus. Even a pre-owned Lexus is a significant investment: making an investment like this without seeing the goods first is asking for trouble. Regardless of whether you're buying from a dealership or from a private seller, always ask to inspect the car personally. If possible, ask to see the car where it's usually parked - this will let you check the ground for any suspicious signs of fluid leakage. Even if you're not mechanically minded, a cursory inspection of the vehicle is enough to spot any dents, dings, or signs of rust or corrosion. Minor, superficial problems are to be expected to some extent, and can usually be rectified without incurring a huge bill. However, make a note of them to use as a bargaining tool for later. Check out the interior as much as the exterior. If the cabin is dirty, smelly, and uncared for, take it as a warning: if the current owner hasn't put any effort into maintaining the inside, it suggests they've been less than fastidious about other aspects of the car's upkeep.
Book a Pre-Purchase Inspection
Although an initial inspection can help identify any obvious problems, it's going to take a thorough inspection from a qualified mechanic to determine what's going on beneath the hood. A pre-purchase inspection can help turn up any serious issues with the engine and other major parts. As autoguide.com, comments, an inspection can help uncover thousands of dollars worth of repair needs. It's therefore well worth forking out the $100 or so it costs to get one.
Take it for a Test Drive
If the inspection has gone well and you're satisfied with the car, it's almost time to start negotiating on the price. But before you get to that, there's still one more vital step to take: the test drive. Arrange a long enough test drive for you to get a good feeling for how the car drives. As well as watching out for any problems, use the time to consider the overall driving experience. Is it as smooth as you imagined? How easy are the controls to use? What's the sound quality like on the sound system? Is there enough headroom? Enough legroom? Take a note of each and every detail that contributes to the overall experience. This is a car that you'll be spending a big chunk of money on - if it's not going to offer you the driving experience you've been hoping for, move on to something that will.
Written by Benjamin Smith
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