10 Things You Need to Know Before Buying a Used Car

Buying a Used Car

Sooner or later, everyone comes to the point where they need to purchase a new car. Buyers find themselves with a lot of options and decisions:

  • What type of car to go with?
  • What features are essential?
  • Do I buy new or used?

Used cars can be a more economical way to replace a vehicle – buyers can get a vehicle that’s almost as good as new, without having to deal with the depreciation that’s associated with buying new. For those who decide to go with purchasing a used car, there are many more things to consider.

Here are the 10 things you need to know before buying that used car:

  1. Research vehicles with a good resale value. Vehicles that have a good resale value tend to make good used cars. Cars like the Nissan Altima, the Toyota Camry and the Honda Accord tend to hold their value and remain on the road longer. In addition, used vehicles from second-tier auto manufacturers like Mitsubishi and Mazda are comparable, and on average, $3,000 cheaper (source: edmunds.com).
  1. Shop for newer used cars that still have some of their original manufacturer’s warranty. Most late-model vehicles have at least 3-year/36,000 mile warranties, while newer used vehicles may have 10-year/100,000 mile warranties. Take advantage of the maintenance included with these vehicles. Also, be sure to verify that the warranty is fully transferable.
  1. Research the vehicle’s history. Details concerning past owners, use and maintenance should be important in influencing your decision to buy a used vehicle. Companies like Carfax and AutoCheck provide buyers with vehicle history reports that cover title information, flood damage history, total loss accident history, odometer reading, and more.
  2. Be sure that the vehicle you’re interested in will pass both state safety and emissions tests. In most states this is a legal requirement, but not in all. Be sure to check with your state vehicle administration office to verify if these tests are required before the sale of used vehicles. Repairs to make a used car roadworthy could cost hundreds of dollars (if not more) and in most states, you can’t register your vehicle if it does not pass these tests.
  3. Consider Certified, Pre-Owned (CPO) Vehicles. These vehicles are typically late models with more than 50,000 miles, but have been through multipoint inspections, with any needed service or upkeep taken care of before they are put on a lot. CPO vehicles are also backed by the manufacturer and often come with extended warranties at no additional cost.
  4. Examine the vehicle services record and mileage disclosure documents carefully. Verify that the vehicle has been well-maintained and regularly serviced. Things like oil changes and radiator flushes help to preserve the integrity of the vehicle’s engine and keep it on the road.
  5. Test drive the vehicle before you purchase it. During the test drive, be sure and check for things such as: acceleration from a stop, visibility, engine noise, passing acceleration, hill-climbing power, braking, cornering and turn radius, suspension, and rattles & squeaks. All of these things must be considered before the purchase.
  6. Compare the value of the vehicle with the sale price using the NADA Official Used Car Guide published by the National Automobile Dealer Association or the Kelley Blue Book. Also compare prices of similar models and years to verify that you are not paying too much.
  7. Ask about the dealer’s return policy and get it in writing. Be sure to read through it carefully – many times there are mileage and time restrictions involved in returning a vehicle. Carmax, for example, offers a 5-day money-back guarantee if the vehicle is returned in the condition it was purchased.
  8. Check for any manufacturer recalls for the make, model and year of the vehicle you are interested in purchasing and ensure that all recalled items have been addressed on the vehicle. The manufacturer recalls involve both the safety of the vehicle and the passengers within and should not be overlooked.

These are just a few of the considerations buyers might want to think about before buying a used vehicle and some more great information can be found online. As always, we welcome your feedback! If you have any additional tips to buying used vehicles, please leave us your comments below!