Why You Should Consider Buying a Used Car
Trying to decide whether or not buying a used car is right for you? Dealerships park shiny new models close to the road for a reason. They’re eye-catching and tempting and they get you onto the lot, but a new car is not the best option for everybody or for every situation. There are a ton of great reasons to shop pre-owned.
Save money and avoid a large portion of depreciation
One of the biggest reasons that many people opt to buy a used car is depreciation. You may have heard it before, but the truth is, a new car loses value (about 10%) the moment you drive it off the lot! The average depreciation in the first year is about another 20%. Not only are you saving a few bucks on the front end by buying a pre-owned car, but you also avoid the potential loss you might suffer if you need to sell or replace that car in the first year.
Lower Insurance Premiums
Car insurance companies rely on a large variety of factors to determine your rates and every situation is different. That said, it’s safe to say that the more expensive it would be to replace your car in the case of a major accident, the more you can expect to pay in premiums. Often, an older, less expensive model means savings when you go to get those car insurance quotes. It’s not the only factor you want to consider, but it’s worth looking into. Your car insurance company should be able to help guide you as you make your car-buying decisions.
Peace of Mind
There’s a little extra peace of mind when you buy a used car over a new model. Once a car has been on the market for a while, you’ll find reviews from owners who have driven them for a while. You may even be able to locate online owners’ forums and enthusiast groups. You can look into recalls, learn about frequent mechanical issues, and you can even buy a certified pre-owned (CPO) car. CPOs are rigorously inspected and backed by the original manufacturer.
Everybody likes choices, and when you choose to purchase a used car, there are a lot of them! You’ll have years’ worth of models, options, and even colors to choose from. When you’re shopping for new cars, there are only 300-400 models to choose from across all brands. You never know, you may prefer a model, trim package, or paint color that a manufacturer doesn’t offer anymore.
Sometimes you can really score on the extras when you buy a pre-owned vehicle. Previous owners may have already upgraded those base model wheels and sound systems. If you’re the outdoorsy type, take advantage of someone else’s investment in a roof rack or a bicycle carrier. There are seemingly limitless options out there for aftermarket upgrades and shopping used may mean that you can find the car, truck, or SUV that meets your needs exactly!
Before You Buy a Used Car
Determine Your Budget Before Buying a Used Car
Knowing what your budget is before you shop for a car is always going to help you avoid the pitfalls. Whether paying cash or seeking financing, know what you can truly afford, and don’t forget to include the additional costs. Consider what you’ll likely be spending for gas based on your driving habits and look into average maintenance costs. Some cars require specialty oil changes and trucks will cost you more in tires when they need to be replaced than smaller cars will. Last but certainly not least, don’t forget car insurance! It’s helpful to consider all of these things when setting your car-buying budget.
Determine Your Payment Plan
Hand in hand with setting your budget, you’ll want to decide what the best payment plan is for you before you start shopping for that new car. Do want to pay cash or do you need to finance? If you’re planning to finance, consider your options. Decide how many months you’re comfortable making payments. Do you want to trade in your current vehicle or sell it outright to a personal buyer? Either way, you’ll need a solid downpayment to keep your interest rate low. It’s also a common recommendation to secure financing before visiting a dealership as you’re likely to get a better deal with your own bank and you won’t run the risk of having multiple pulls on your credit.
Consider Your Needs
Whether you’re shopping for a family car, a car for work, or even a second car “just for fun”, everyone’s needs are unique! Put some thought into what’s going to be most important to you. If you have a long commute or travel frequently, you may be most concerned about gas mileage. Your family size (or planned family size) may mean you need a little extra room. If you’re taking those kids of yours to soccer practice or you move a lot of gear around for your job, take a look at storage space. If none of those apply to you, you may be looking for comfort and engine size above all else. There are no right or wrong answers, but when you’re shopping for a used car, you’ll have a lot of options, so go ahead make a wish list of the options that equal the perfect car for you!
Do Your Research
So we’ve already pointed out that buying a used car means that there are a lot more options available. Take advantage of that. Scour the web for customer reviews (and pro reviews too). Ask around if your friends and family have driven similar make and models. Once you think you’ve found the right car for you, run a vehicle history using a site like Carfax.com and consider a mechanic inspection.
What to Avoid When Buying a Used Car
Don’t Skip the Test Drive
Whatever you do when buying a new car, don’t skip the test drive, and don’t just drive around the block! Consider test driving on wet roads and feel out acceleration with a quick jaunt on the highway. Try out that vehicle in traffic and driving conditions that are similar to your daily life. Test driving during heavy in-town traffic will help you feel out blind spots and ease of navigation. If you regularly need to park in public garages or in parallel spaces, give your potential “new” car a try in those environments too. See how that vehicle is going to fit into your life!
Don’t Buy Based On Looks Alone
It’s always tempting to go for the prettiest vehicle, but avoid getting too caught up in your favorite color or the sportiest trim package. That list of must-haves you put together in your planning and research before buying a used car will help to keep you on track in finding the best car for your needs. Find what you need first and then choose the car you like the looks of best after you’ve located a few good options.
Don’t Go Over Your Budget
It may go without saying, but stick to your budget! One of the best ways to do so is to avoid looking at or test-driving anything that’s outside your price range. Once you get behind the wheel, it’s tempting to spend just a little more and you don’t want to regret that expense in the long run.
How to Get a Deal on a Used Car
Consider Buying From a Rental Company
Rental car companies refresh their fleets often and for you that can mean great deals on low mileage cars! Reliability is important to rental agencies, so these companies usually follow recommended maintenance on their vehicles. You may not be able to count on that with a private owner. An added bonus – if you don’t like to haggle, rental companies may be a great option for you. They often offer fair, non-negotiable rates.
If you’re quite the opposite and like to have some room to negotiate, visit a local dealership. Keep in mind that if you do, you’ll need to plan on haggling if you want the best deal because the first offer won’t likely be the best. Because you’ve done your research, you’ll be armed with knowledge on expected pricing for your models of choice and fair value if you’re bringing in a trade. Be willing to ask for the best deal and don’t be afraid to walk away if you feel you aren’t getting it!
Shop Around – Expand Your Search
One of the very best ways to save when you buy a used car is to expand your search area. You may find that the type of vehicle you want is less in demand in an outerlying county and less demand will lead to better deals. You’ll be up against less competition to buy and dealers may be more motivated to move inventory.
Check Out Discontinued and Slow-Selling Models
Some models of vehicles just don’t sell like manufacturers hope they will. Obviously, that means those models will be discontinued. Look into discontinued models in recent years and you may just find a slow-selling gem that’s perfectly right for you while saving a little extra of that hard-earned money! And don’t be afraid to watch a dealership’s used car inventory for a while before you buy. You may be able to spot a vehicle or two that have been sitting on their lot for a while. If they’ve been slow to sell, you’re likely to have pretty good luck at negotiating a good deal to take one off their hands!
If You’re Buying From a Dealer, Shop Late in the Month
Last, but not least – if you’re planning to buy a used car from a dealership, think about shopping late in the month. All dealerships have goals to meet on moving inventory and if they haven’t met them yet, they may be willing to make extra good deals to get another vehicle out the door before they close out the month. Think of it as a win-win. You’ll get a great deal while helping a seller hit their goals.