Woman shopping for used car

5 Tips For Buying A Great Used Car

Buying a used car can be difficult when you don’t know what you should take into consideration. When the family car has finally given up the ghost and you need to find another ride.

You could buy new. But with the average price of a brand new car chiming in at $34,000, according to auto information website TrueCar, a new car might not be in the budget. Thankfully, it probably has never been easier to find a quality pre-owned car.

Follow these expert tips for buying a used car to help ease the process and you should be back to hauling the kids to hockey practice in no time.

1. Weigh Age Against Price

Buying a used car is all about finding a balance between price and reliability, says Eric Lyman, vice president of industry insights at TrueCar. Too new, and a vehicle will be expensive; too old and it could require several repairs. That’s why he recommends buying a used car that is around three years old. Chances are it’ll be in good shape and could cost up to 40 percent less than its newer counterparts.

Review your policy.

2. Get An Independent Mechanic To Have A Look

The main tip for buying a used car is: don’t plunk down your money until an independent mechanic inspects it. You have two options when it comes to inspecting the used car you are planning on buying:

  1. If you know a technician, bring them along to the used car lot, says Mike Peth, director of curriculum at Ohio Technical College, which specializes in auto repair.
  2. Ask the dealer if you can drive the car to your mechanic’s garage of choice. Often, a comprehensive checkup will cost as little as $100. If the dealer says no, be suspicious, says Peth.

3. Consider A Certified Used Car

“Does the prospect of expensive repairs make you nervous? Then look for a certified pre-owned vehicle. These used cars are inspected by dealers and must pass inspection requirements such as:

  • Maximum mileage and age thresholds
  • Restrictions in the presence of aftermarket add-ons
  • The condition of the vehicle’s transmission system

These requirements are determined by manufacturers and come with extended warranties. You’ll pay a premium, but you also won’t have to worry about paying for a new transmission a year from now. “Certified pre-owned vehicles hit the sweet spot between value and reliability,” says Lyman.

4. Do Your Homework

Back in the day, figuring out the value of a used car could be difficult. But online services make researching what others paid for your vehicle easier than ever. Also, check out websites like Carfax, which uses the VIN to tell you whether the car you’re looking at has been in an accident. If it has, be wary.

5. Don’t Get Emotional

As with any major purchase, Peth says it’s important to think with your head and not your heart. When you’re buying a used car, try to avoid fixating on a certain model or color. Read reviews online and aim for pre-owned cars that have a history of reliability. Don’t overlook obvious problems just because you like the look of a vehicle. Never say “I gotta have that car,” says Peth. You don’t want to be satisfied with a new-to-you car in the moment only to regret having to drive it for years to come.

By Andrew Raven

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    Leave a comment

  1. john ajax says,

    I am from texas, I found your article on the net and it helps me a lot to buy a used car and finally, I parked a powerful Austin martin DBX in my garage. thank you very much for sharing your thoughts. and you deserve great greetings from my side. keep goin on…

  2. Linda Paeleman says,

    This is very informative article. Instead of buying a new car I have an idea to buy a used car. But I dont know how to check Used Car Check; At the time I get this blog.

  3. Vicki C. says,

    Thank you for all this information! It was very helpful! I did just buy a used car and went to a mechanic that I knew to check it out before I bought it! I am so happy I did because the 1st car was awesome but low and behold the frame was bent and was in an accident which I was not aware of ! So I ended up buying the 2nd choice car and I love it! Thanks again!

  4. Efrain De Jesus says,

    I just bought a second car: 2001 Ford Taurus SES, the vehicle is being used by an old Lady here in the villages, The car has a reading of 26654 miles, I have verified that because she gave me The Car manual, with all the services performed by mileage. PRICE I PAY $3,000.00

    The first thing I did was check also with one of this type companies that charge you for but it worst spending the money. The vehicle is being garaged.

    I have replace all the Fluids, Brake, transmission, motor, Radiator fluid and others. (ALL)

    They told I should replace the Tires, Spark Plugs, Cable plugs and also the coil.

    I am a week end mechanic and also I used to work for a Motor Rebuilder, a place they rebuild motors and transmission.
    The thing never I heard that the Coil should be replace on a Tuned UP

    Can I get an orientation of what to do.


  5. E.R. Dale says,

    I have come-to-understand in my*Years*-Do your research,be-Patient,don’t be afraid to-Ask-if you don’t-Know and use common-Sense. Don’t-Buy, again Don’t Buy what you know you can’t afford. You-will Regret-it, just common-Sense. Not talking down to any one, just trying to-Outline- some-Mistakes we have all made or might-make, Think about-it? Hope this was helpful. E.R. Dale

  6. Elaine Copeland says,

    I want to get a new car. Is it better to trade it in or sell it to an individual? I also have a car that has REALLY low mileage. But it’s 8 years old. About 2000 miles a year. I have the oil changed every 1200 miles. New filters and every belt checked with oil change. Not even a fender bender. There is not a source to look at to show it’s value.

    • Sandra Leticia Sandoz says,

      It’s better to sell it to an individual because dealer’s trade in are not worth it they give you the least amount , an individual would pay way more if the car is in tip top condition.

  7. Troy Blackburn says,

    I love the tip you gave about how you can’t become emotional or attached to a certain car before it is your’s during the buying process. I’ve heard, too, that it’s so important to get pre-approved for your loan beforehand so that you can have a bit of leverage when negotiating the price. I’ll be sure to keep these great tips in mind as I try to find a great used car for my son for his birthday that’s coming up soon.

  8. Dennis Sanchez says,

    I’ve been thinking about purchasing a used car, and wanted to know what to look for. You advised having a mechanic look at the used car before you make a final decision, to make sure there aren’t any major issues. I would love to avoid any mechanical issues when I get a car, so this will be the first thing I do when I’m seriously considering a car. Thanks for the advice.

  9. Bob Lowe says,

    Thanks for the post. This is really helpful information. I agree that you need to make sure that you do your homework. I think knowing your price can really help you to determine what you can afford. I also agree that you need to not get emotional. I think dealerships are more than willing to work with you on the price, but you need to be able to say no if it is not in your price range.

  10. Bob Lowe says,

    Thank you for your post. Going along with number 4, I think it is a good idea to also consider the cost of insurance. Depending on the year, make, and model will determine the cost. I also completely agree with number 5, make sure you get the car you want but more importantly find the one you can afford and need.

  11. Jason Strong says,

    My wife and I are looking for our first new car and we have no idea what to look for. We really want to make sure that its a good car to take around but that it can double as a good family car as well. It seems that the main thing we gotta make sure we do is research and figure out what will be our best bet and what we can afford. I hope that we can find one here soon.

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