Purchasing a pre-owned vehicle offers cost-effective benefits such as a lower purchase price, less depreciation, minimized monthly payments and reduced insurance premiums. Since today’s cars, trucks and SUVs are engineered to last longer, you should feel more confident with the prospect of purchasing a second-hand vehicle. What will provide more peace of mind is getting your used vehicle from the right place or person.
While most car dealerships primarily focus on offering the latest lineup from a particular brand or automaker, they’re also liable to have used vehicles for sale. Some dealerships only focus on selling used cars, allowing them to offer a most expansive range of vehicles, ranging from economy cars to luxury vehicles. If you buy a vehicle at a dealership, you can assume that it has been inspected by a member of the service team, but you want to have it independently evaluated by a trusted mechanic.
If a vehicle falls within a certified pre-owned program, it will have undergone a stringent multipoint inspection by automotive professionals and will include a vehicle history report. To qualify as a certified pre-owned, a vehicle typically must have been released within the last five years and have low mileage, potentially making it a more reliable option. According to U.S. News & World Report’s John M. Vincent, CPO vehicles also tend to be offered with warranty coverage, be it the remainder of an original manufacturer warranty or an extended warranty offered by the dealership or manufacturer.
Online auto retailer
If you prefer to shop online, NerdWallet writer Philip Reed suggests sites such as CarMax and Autotrader, which are considered great resources for pinpointing a used car.
The online auto retailer CarMax is a comprehensive source to conduct research as well as purchase your next vehicle. It allows you to search through an extensive inventory of cars that are free from frame and flood damage and come with a safety recall report and free vehicle history. If you purchase a vehicle through CarMax, you’ll also benefit from limited warranty coverage and a five-day money-back guarantee. CarMax promises a no-haggle sales environment and offers financing options.
Autotrader gathers cars from approximately 250,000 individual sellers and 40,000 dealers. Since the site requires a fee to list a car, Reed notes that it’s better at keeping scammers and shady characters out. Autotrader offers tips on how to buy and sell a car and shares reviews, vehicle history reports and safety details. You can apply for financing and buy insurance as well as warranty programs through Autotrader.
Cost is a significant attraction of purchasing a used car from a private seller: Kelley Blue Book Senior Analyst Karl Brauer tells U.S. News & World Report writer Charles Krome that pricing is typically lower when buying from an individual because there are no added overhead costs. In most cases, a seller is just trying to get market value for a vehicle, which eliminates much of the markup you’d get elsewhere. Buying from a private seller can be troublesome because you’ll need to have the vehicle inspected by a trusted mechanic and it poses the issue of safety that comes with meeting an individual you don’t know.
Whether you choose to purchase a used car from a dealership, online auto retailer or a private seller, it’s important to do your research, have the vehicle vetted by a mechanic and review its history as thoroughly as possible before you sign on the dotted line.