7 Things to Consider Before Buying a Used Car

Posted March 4, 2024 by in Lifestyle

Buying a used car can be a great way to save money and get a reliable vehicle. However, there are several important things to consider before making a purchase.

Below, you’ll find 7 things to consider before buying a used car online, through a dealership, or through a private seller:

Woman in leather jacket getting into a black car that's parked on a roof deck

  1. Choose the Type of Car That Suits Your Lifestyle 

Whether it’s a car, truck, or SUV that suits your lifestyle best, you have several options to choose from. You should consider a truck if you are looking for a durable option that can pull weight and double as a work vehicle. The hybrid sedan, however, may be the right choice for you if you need a vehicle that offers considerable fuel economy without sacrificing style. Before you even start to shop around for a vehicle, consider your current lifestyle, finances and what type of vehicle fits your needs.

  1. Learn How to Shop Around and Compare Prices

Car valuation websites like Edmunds, Kelley Blue Book, and NADA can all help you find the market value of a vehicle and what you should reasonably expect to pay for it, whether you choose to purchase from a dealership or a private seller. Make sure to check multiple websites in order to get a better idea of how much a particular make, model, and year of a car is going for in this current market.

  1. Consider the Condition of the Car

Once you’ve found the right car, make sure to get it thoroughly inspected for any signs of damage, wear and tear, or mechanical issues before you purchase it. Unless you have a strict budget, avoid purchasing a vehicle with a branded title, such as a salvage or rebuilt title.

  1. Are you Willing to Purchase a CPO?

A certified pre-owned vehicle, otherwise known as a CPO, is more expensive than your run-of-the-mill used car. However, CPOs have strict regulations, meaning that they can give borrowers more peace of mind knowing that they are purchasing a vehicle that has been thoroughly inspected by a dealership and meets the applicable standards. 

  1. Research the Vehicle’s History

Obtain a vehicle history report to check for any accidents, ownership history, and maintenance records. This can provide valuable insight into how the vehicle was cared for over the years. You’ll also want to check if there are any existing liens on the vehicle, from a title loan, financing bank, or mechanic. 

  1. Consider the Cost of Ownership

Look into factors such as insurance rates, maintenance costs, and fuel efficiency to determine if the car is affordable in the long run. For example, before you purchase a used Ford F-150, understand that it is going to guzzle gas, and filling up your tank will be expensive. Similarly, if you purchase a used BMW M3, you will likely pay more in insurance each month.

  1. Check for Any Recalls or Safety Issues

Visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website to see if there are any open recalls for the specific make and model of the car you are considering. You don’t want to get suckered into buying a vehicle with serious safety issues that could make it hard to resell down the line.

What Factors Affect the Market Value of a Used Vehicle?

While there are several factors that can affect the market value of a used car, one of the most significant ones is the age of the vehicle. Although there are some exceptions, newer cars generally retain a higher market value compared to older ones. Basically, your car will depreciate in value as soon as it is driven off the dealership lot- that’s just how things work in the industry!

The second most important factor that will impact a used car’s value is the current mileage listed on the odometer reading. Lower mileage often translates to a higher market value as it suggests less wear and tear on the car’s components.

Woman standing next to black car that is parked at the top of a parking garage in a city

Additionally, the overall condition of the vehicle, including the exterior and interior, as well as the mechanical components, can significantly impact its market value. A well-maintained car with minimal wear and tear is likely to have a higher market value compared to a similar model in worse condition.

The make and model of the car, as well as its desirability in the current used car market, also influences its market value. Popular makes and models with a strong reputation for reliability and performance typically translate into higher prices. It’s important to consider these factors when evaluating the market value of a used vehicle and negotiating the sales price with a dealership. 

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