Tag Archive | "Used Car"

Buying Used Car

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That said, the big advantage of buying a used car is that you’re avoiding a huge depreciation of value over time. The value of a new car drops significantly the moment it is driven off the lot. After that, most cars tend to depreciate by about 50% after three years, and then drop about 10% per year afterwards, eventually reaching close to 0% per year. Aside from the lower sale price, knowing that a used car is less of a long-term investment is one of the better reasons to buy one.

Of course, if you’re in the market for a new car, you can compare identical models and play their respective dealers off each other to strike the best deal — luxuries you will not be afforded if shopping for a used car. But that’s what makes it sporting.

Buying a Used Car

You can find and/or purchase a used car through various means:

  • Dealer.

    The advantage to buying from a dealer is that many times used cars will come with fresh warranties. The problem is, you will be dealing with someone who has an even worse reputation than the stereotypical new car salesman. If you’re not getting a good vibe from the dealer, try a non-haggle superstores, like AutoNation or Car Max, which offer certain guarantees and warranties on their vehicles.

  • Person-to-Person.

    The advantage is you’re not dealing with the dealer and you’re more likely to be able to negotiate a price that’s close to the used car value that you’d find in the Kelley Blue Book or the Edmunds.com listings. The disadvantage is that you’re taking the car “as is” — it will not be certified or have any warranties.

  • Public Auctions.

    You’re literally determining how much you’re going to pay for that car as you’re buying it. Be forewarned that while you might be able to start the car and view it during the preview session, you’re not likely to be able to drive it and test it out beforehand.

What to Look For

When buying a used car, research is key. You don’t want to end up burying yourself with a purchase that was initially intended to save you money. Give the potential vehicle a thorough inspection: Examine the outside and determine its wear and tear from every angle, and find out what it has weathered. Has it survived a flood? Did it tow all of the owners’ kids’ stuff to college and back cross-country? Has it ever been in a major accident?

While you’re certainly going to want to ask the owner for all of this information, it’s a good idea to run a Vehicle History Report (VHR) using the Vehicle’s Identification Number (VIN) to find out where the car’s been and what it’s done. While a car may turn up with “no history,” that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s problem free. However the extra research (which can run anywhere from $10-$15 per report) could help you make a more informed decision… After all, you don’t want to end up foolishly buying the car that they used as the stunt-vehicle in the latest blockbuster car-chase movie.

If you punch up Vehicle History Reports on any search engine, you’ll come up with several services that can provide a VHR -

Finally, make sure that you ask the seller about any funny noises while you’re test-driving the car. Get a feel for the it, push buttons (make sure that what’s supposed to work does), ask questions — test it out in any way you can imagine, short of trying to determine how well it holds under fire (gunshots or otherwise.)