5 Tips For Buying A Great Used Car

Woman shopping for used carBuying a used car can be difficult when you don’t know what you should take into consideration. When the family car has finally given up the ghost and you need to find another ride.

You could buy new. But with the average price of a brand new car chiming in at $34,000, according to auto information website TrueCar, a new car might not be in the budget. Thankfully, it probably has never been easier to find a quality pre-owned car.

Follow these expert tips for buying a used car to help ease the process and you should be back to hauling the kids to hockey practice in no time.

  1. Weigh Age Against Price

Buying a used car is all about finding a balance between price and reliability, says Eric Lyman, vice president of industry insights at TrueCar. Too new, and a vehicle will be expensive; too old and it could require several repairs. That’s why he recommends buying a used car that is around three years old. Chances are it’ll be in good shape and could cost up to 40 percent less than its newer counterparts.

  1. Get an Independent Mechanic to Have a Look

The main tip for buying a used car is: don’t plunk down your money until an independent mechanic inspects it. You have two options when it comes to inspecting the used car you are planning on buying:

  1. If you know a technician, bring them along to the used car lot, says Mike Peth, director of curriculum at Ohio Technical College, which specializes in auto repair.
  2. Ask the dealer if you can drive the car to your mechanic’s garage of choice. Often, a comprehensive checkup will cost as little as $100. If the dealer says no, be suspicious, says Peth.
  1. Consider a Certified Used Car

“Does the prospect of expensive repairs make you nervous? Then look for a certified pre-owned vehicle. These used cars are inspected by dealers and must pass inspection requirements such as:

  • Maximum mileage and age thresholds
  • Restrictions in the presence of aftermarket add-ons
  • The condition of the vehicle’s transmission system

These requirements are determined by manufacturers and come with extended warranties. You’ll pay a premium, but you also won’t have to worry about paying for a new transmission a year from now. “Certified pre-owned vehicles hit the sweet spot between value and reliability,” says Lyman.

  1. Do Your Homework

Back in the day, figuring out the value of a used car could be difficult. But the GEICO Car Buying Service, powered by TrueCar, makes that process a breeze. The used car inventory and pricing draws from 11,000 dealers across the country “There is no substitute for accurate and up-to-date pricing,” says Lyman. Also, check out websites like Carfax, which uses the VIN to tell you whether the car you’re looking at has been in an accident. If it has, be wary.

  1. Don’t Get Emotional

As with any major purchase, Peth says it’s important to think with your head and not your heart. When you’re buying a used car, try to avoid fixating on a certain model or color. Read reviews online and aim for pre-owned cars that have a history of reliability. Don’t overlook obvious problems just because you like the look of a vehicle. Never say “I gotta have that car,” says Peth. You don’t want to be satisfied with a new-to-you car in the moment only to regret having to drive it for years to come.

Shopping around for a car? Use the GEICO Car Buying Service to get upfront pricing information from Certified Dealers. That means you’ll save time and money! Plus, every reported purchase from a TrueCar Certified Dealer comes with extra benefits including Auto Deductible Reimbursement. See how much you could save on your new or used vehicle.

By Andrew Raven

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  1. Elaine Copeland says

    I want to get a new car. Is it better to trade it in or sell it to an individual? I also have a car that has REALLY low mileage. But it’s 8 years old. About 2000 miles a year. I have the oil changed every 1200 miles. New filters and every belt checked with oil change. Not even a fender bender. There is not a source to look at to show it’s value.

    • Sandra Leticia Sandoz says

      It’s better to sell it to an individual because dealer’s trade in are not worth it they give you the least amount , an individual would pay way more if the car is in tip top condition.

  2. Troy Blackburn says

    I love the tip you gave about how you can’t become emotional or attached to a certain car before it is your’s during the buying process. I’ve heard, too, that it’s so important to get pre-approved for your loan beforehand so that you can have a bit of leverage when negotiating the price. I’ll be sure to keep these great tips in mind as I try to find a great used car for my son for his birthday that’s coming up soon.

  3. Dennis Sanchez says

    I’ve been thinking about purchasing a used car, and wanted to know what to look for. You advised having a mechanic look at the used car before you make a final decision, to make sure there aren’t any major issues. I would love to avoid any mechanical issues when I get a car, so this will be the first thing I do when I’m seriously considering a car. Thanks for the advice.

  4. Bob Lowe says

    Thanks for the post. This is really helpful information. I agree that you need to make sure that you do your homework. I think knowing your price can really help you to determine what you can afford. I also agree that you need to not get emotional. I think dealerships are more than willing to work with you on the price, but you need to be able to say no if it is not in your price range.

  5. Bob Lowe says

    Thank you for your post. Going along with number 4, I think it is a good idea to also consider the cost of insurance. Depending on the year, make, and model will determine the cost. I also completely agree with number 5, make sure you get the car you want but more importantly find the one you can afford and need.

  6. Jason Strong says

    My wife and I are looking for our first new car and we have no idea what to look for. We really want to make sure that its a good car to take around but that it can double as a good family car as well. It seems that the main thing we gotta make sure we do is research and figure out what will be our best bet and what we can afford. I hope that we can find one here soon.