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Right now there are unprecedented numbers of used cars for sale in NJ and an equally unprecedented number of people looking to buy. Although much of the damage from Hurricane Sandy has been cleaned up, untold numbers of cars were damaged or destroyed and that leaves many car owners cashing in their insurance and looking to buy a replacement.

But buying a used car can be stressful. Many people worry they don’t know much about cars, or don’t understand what to look for in a “new” used car. The selection is huge, the pressure is high, and negotiating a price can itself be intimidating. So what do you do?

Buying a used car will never be as easy as shopping for groceries, but these tips will help you choose something you’ll be happy with:

  1. Decide on your budget

    You should do this before you even look at a car listing. This is the number one mistake people make: first they look at cars they like, and then they decide on their price range. This will always leave you paying more than you really should, which translates to regrets several months down the line. Instead, look at your current finances and what you can realistically pay, and choose a price range. Then, start looking at cars below that range. For example, if you figure you can spend up to $7,000, start your search with automobiles in the $5,000 range.

  2. Do your homework

    Once you’re on the lot, you’ll be taken in by looks and sales pitches. But you should have a sense of what you need long before you get there. Think about what you use your vehicle for: do you need space for a family? Hauling power for work? Off-roading capability? Something that will impress clients? Use the internet to compare cars that fit the bill and read reviews for objective information. If you have a few specific models in mind, check the Blue Book for info on how they fare used.

  3. Take your time

    Most of us are used to one-stop shopping. You go, look at the options on the shelf, and take your pick. But there’s a lot more risk operating that way when you’re talking about a ten thousand dollar investment. Turnover is high at used lots in New Jersey right now; come back multiple times over a few weeks and let yourself be picky.

  4. Bring a friend

    Whether to prevent impulse purchases, to help inspect the engine, or to consult before you start haggling, a second perspective is a powerful thing. Note that we say friend and not spouse – by all means, bring your partner too, but get someone who isn’t a buyer to weigh in.

There are lots of used cars for sale in NJ,which means you can find one you’ll truly be happy with. Just plan ahead and take your time.

For more writing by Jillian Johnson follow her @MissWritey.