Where Is A Good Place To Buy Used Cars
Many financial experts will tell you that buying an inexpensive used car and keeping it for years is one of the savviest things you can do to minimize the cost of car ownership. But if you pick the wrong vehicle or place to buy, that "cheap" car could cost you thousands in repairs or finance costs.
where is a good place to buy used cars
In 2022, however, there may not be many "cheap" cars to speak of. As of this writing, we're facing a shortage of used cars, which has caused their market value to spike to record highs. This makes choosing the right used-car retailer even more critical, as a mistake has never been costlier. You may also need to expand your search further to find a car online or at a brick-and-mortar car dealer.
Remember that you may find used cars for sale that are under recall and not yet repaired: It's not illegal for sellers to offer such cars. Check the vehicle identification number (VIN) at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's recall site so you'll know whether you're about to buy a car that you'll then need to take in for the free recall repair.
Use this list as a quick reference guide to point you toward the best place to buy a used car. Each used-car retailer has advantages and disadvantages, so depending on your priority (price? selection? warranty?), several outlets may fit your needs.
Buying a certified pre-owned (CPO) car is a convenient way to find a used car, SUV or truck in excellent condition. CPO vehicles, which are sold from dealerships of the same brand, go through extensive inspections and are reconditioned with factory parts. They also come with the best warranties. General Motors, for example, offers a one-year/12,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty and a five-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty on all of its CPO cars. Our certified program comparison tool can help you see the differences in coverage. But just because they come with warranties doesn't mean they are exactly like new cars. Read "Certified Pre-Owned Cars: A Reality Check" to see what expectations you should have for a CPO car.
The coverage and convenience of a CPO car come at a price. CPO cars are typically the most expensive used-car option. Edmunds data indicates that consumers will pay on average a 6% to 8% premium for a 3-year-old CPO vehicle. One alternative might be to find a car from a private seller that is new enough to still be under warranty.
The remaining used-car inventory falls under this category. These cars don't typically get the same attention that a CPO car would receive but are still given a reasonable inspection. Any major issues are usually fixed before the car is put up for sale. Since dealerships accept trade-ins on a daily basis, you'll have an easy time finding these used cars at a dealer. Most dealership websites should include a link to a free Carfax or AutoCheck report, so make sure to take advantage of that and learn about the vehicle's history.
An independent dealership isn't associated with any particular automaker. The used-car selection can vary wildly, depending on whether you're shopping at a corner lot or a full-size dealership with a service department. Since the quality can also vary from one place to another, we recommend you run Google and Yelp searches and see what kind of reviews that dealer has. The Better Business Bureau is also a good resource.
Some independent used-car lots may specialize in a certain type of car, which can make your selection process easier if you have that type in mind. For example, one place might focus on European luxury makes, while another might specialize in classic cars.
CarMax is technically an independent used-car dealer. But with upwards of 200 stores nationwide, it is the largest used-car seller in the country. You'll find a wide array of late-model cars in a variety of body styles.
Shopping for a car in the private-party market offers a varied selection and a potential opportunity to get the best price, though you sacrifice the convenience of seeing many cars side by side, as you do at dealer lots. Negotiating with a private-party seller is usually much easier than negotiating with a salesperson at a dealership since most car owners haven't received formal sales training. There are many ways to find private-party vehicles. Some of the more popular places to go on the web are Autotrader, Craigslist, CarGurus and eBay Motors.
There may be good used-car candidates on these sites, but you'll have to sift through a number of listings to find one. This is where you'll likely find the lowest prices, but the condition levels of the cars can vary wildly. Many of the car photos you'll see are just plain bad. Some listings have no photos at all. Information on the cars tends to be limited, and you may have to contact the seller to get a VIN, which is what you need to run a vehicle history report. It's not uncommon to encounter cars that have salvage titles, meaning they've likely been in a serious accident. You'll sometimes run across unlicensed car salespeople pretending to be everyday owners. And then there are ads placed by scammers for cars that don't actually exist.
On Facebook Marketplace, you can click on sellers' names and see their Facebook profile (you need to be logged into Facebook to do so) and how many cars they have for sale. You can use this information to form an impression of how they cared for their car, but ultimately it's no substitute for a vehicle history report.
At CARFAX, we collect events from the lives of millions of used cars from 20 European countries, as well as the USA and Canada. We can then create a vehicle history for every car in our database and make it available to you.The information helps you to check sales data, avoid expensive follow-up costs and negotiate a fair purchase price.
Shopping for a used car gets a little more complicated. When you're shopping used, you can buy from a whole slew of places -- a new car dealership's used car inventory, an independent dealership, a massive used car retailer or a private seller. You even have the option to buy a car online through sites like eBay or Craigslist.
An independent dealership is one that isn't affiliated with any new car brand, which means it sells only used cars. Without a new car inventory to maintain, independent dealerships can have lower operating costs than other dealers, which can lead to lower prices. They tend to buy most of their inventory at auction, which means they have their finger on the pulse of the used car market. However, because they're buying all sorts of different cars, they may not have the expertise to answer questions about the different brands. Finally, since they tend to be smaller, independent dealerships may not offer financing -- and those that do offer financing may not offer it at competitive rates.
Online used car listings have made it easy for buyers to find and compare cars. Using an online auction site such as eBay, you can even buy the car online. However, before you open up Paypal, be aware that the same people who are selling cars offline -- dealerships, independent dealers, retailers and private sellers -- are selling them online. That means that online car buyers face the same opportunities and pitfalls as they would offline. Also, it's pretty tough to fully examine a car just by looking at pictures posted by the seller. If you buy a used car from out of state, you not only need to figure out how you're going to get it home, but you may also be subject to paying the sales tax or registration fees twice (once in the state you buy, once in your home state). Finally, while it's possible to get a great deal from an online auction site, it's also possible to get caught up in the bidding and pay more than a car is worth. See our article on Used-Car Red Flags for more tips.
So what about online sales? Any used car shopper should check out online used car listings to see what's available in their price range. But if you want to buy online, keep in mind that you'll face the same challenges as someone buying offline, and may even have a few extra hurdles to look out for. The bottom line is, no place is the best for every shopper. Finding the best place to buy a used car is really about finding the best place for you.
An analysis by Santander Consumer USA identified nearly 100 online research and shopping resources available to the nearly 40 million consumers that shop for used cars in a typical year. The best used car sites were named by 28 sources that listed choices for those most helpful to car shoppers.
Edmunds.com* Edmunds offers a nationwide database that empowers customers to search a vast inventory of new, used and certified preowned vehicles in their area. The site provides comprehensive used-vehicle search capability and vehicle rankings; reports new-car pricing; identifies highly-rated used cars; flags great, good and fair prices, and offers affordability and loan calculators. Edmunds also provides True Market Value and True Cost to Own on used and new cars, respectively. While a bit overwhelming, the website is worth exploring for the wealth of information it can provide to serious shoppers. (+)
The days of strictly local car-buying seem as distant as $2-a-gallon gas. Today, used-car buyers can easily access millions of vehicles from Maine to California. All of which are a few clicks away on the Internet or a phone call away from a pre-sale inspection and a hauler that will bring that dream car right to your door. But some areas of the country are better than others at offering used cars that are worth the effort to go out of state.
Lakeland, in particular, used to be my favorite place to buy four-wheel-drive vehicles that could be sold for more money up north in the New York area. Although used rental cars are always in Orlando thanks to tourism, garaged, retiree-owned vehicles make Florida a great place to shop for a modern classic. Many online sellers specializing in older, low-mileage cars and trucks intentionally make Florida their home, too. 041b061a72