If you’re reading this article, you’re likely in the market for a new set of wheels and are considering a used car. If you don’t need the latest technology, are flexible with your wish list, and do the right due diligence during the shopping process, you can often get a great value for thousands of dollars less than you would buying new. And financially, you’ll avoid new car depreciation.
There are some key differences between buying used versus new. They involve a number of factors including financing, insurance costs and the types of technology you'll find in older model year vehicles versus newer model ones. To determine where buying used is for you, let’s consider some of the benefits and downsides.
If you’re ready to go down the used car path, we’re here to help. Buying a used vehicle versus a new one presents some unique challenges and you’ll likely have a few questions. We created our used car buying guide to help you understand the process so that you get a great used vehicle and have a good experience.
Like buying a new car, you’ll need to start with coming up with your budget. Be sure to take into account ownership costs which includes things like fuel and maintenance costs along with monthly car insurance.
Not all used cars are alike. We recommend buying factory-certified pre-owned when possible, since those vehicles go through a stringent factory inspection. While you likely pay a bit more, the peace of mind may be worth it to you. Some other types of used cars include dealership loaners and former rental cars. And finally, there are cars for sale by private sellers or at public auto auctions. Use the CARPROUSA used car search tool link below to find vehicles at our certified dealers for an added layer of confidence.
Once you pick a specific used vehicle, investigating its history should be an early part of the process. We recommend obtaining a vehicle history report. We discuss the two main history report providers, AutoCheck and CarFAX, here.
Whether you are buying a used car from a dealer or private party, next it’s time to contact seller to schedule a proper test drive. A test drive is critical when buying a car to avoid what CARPROUSA radio show host Jerry Reynolds calls “buyers remorse.” It becomes even more essential when buying a used vehicle that has some miles on it. Download our Used Car Test Drive Checklist here.
6. Get the Used Car Inspected
If you like the used car after driving it, consider taking it to a third-party mechanic for a professional inspection.
Exception: If you are buying a Factory Certified Pre-Owned vehicle, the dealer has already completed a through a stringent factory required inspection process and the vehicle is also under warranty.
Now that you’ve come to the final selling price, factoring in any trade-in and loan interest rate, you are almost at the finish line. At this point, the salesperson or finance person will present you with optional add-ons like extended warranties, vehicle protection and maintenance plans. These items may increase your total purchase cost, but can save you money on repairs down the road.
Once you select or decline additional items, it’s time to get everything formalized on paper. Take the time to read through the contract and look at everything listed, including dealer documentation fees, tax and title fees and anything else with a number next to it. Question anything you do not understand.
Also make sure you get a “due bill” on anything promised to you, like work on the car, tinted windows, etc, in writing.
By following the advice you’ve read in our used car buying guide and purchasing from a CarProUSA Certified Dealer’s used car inventory, you can be confident in your car buying experience. Enjoy your new (to you) ride!