Buying a car can be a big decision and is often the first big purchase that someone makes in their life. If you're researching cars, you might be staggered by the price tag and worried that you can't afford one. Considering used cars can be a good way to alleviate some of that financial anxiety and still get a good vehicle that you can drive for years to come. Indeed, the average car will have about three owners during its lifespan and almost 40 million used cars are bought and sold every year, between used car dealerships or private sales. If you picture a run down clunker when you hear "used cars," think again. Some used cars might only be a year or two old, but traded in for a newer or better model, and certain types of cars tend to have a long lifespan, so just because a car is a few years old doesn't mean that it's likely to break down on you the minute you get behind the driver's seat.
What Should I Know About Used Cars?
If you're planning on getting a used car that's less than five years old, you should look into ones that are certified pre-owned (commonly abbreviated as CPO). According to Kelley Blue Book, these are used vehicles that are top of the line, inspected, and come with a manufacturer's warranty. Some of these might be cars that were previously leased, and have low mileage and little wear and tear, and could be easy sells on a used car lot.
Finding a used car with an automatic transmission is probably going to be much easier than finding a car with manual transmission; automatic transmissions vs. manual transmissions are 10 to 1 in the market.
Used cars are a great deal -- the price range most searched for a used vehicle is under $5,000, which is a pretty reasonable figure.
Don't be afraid to take your time doing your research. Almost of half of used car buyers spend anywhere from one month to three months researching used cars before they actually purchase their vehicle. The Internet is a great tool for this; around 80% of people used the web to find their used car.
Where Can I Find Used Cars for Sale?
A used car dealership is one sure-fire way to find a used car. This can be safer to some degree -- you're talking with a car salesman one on one and the car's quality is backed by the dealership. Their reputation is on the line, so in most cases, you'll get a good quality car for a fair deal. The car salesman might also be able to offer more flexible options in terms of financing or car maintenance. They want to make the sale and you want to buy a vehicle, so don't be afraid to haggle.
The other option is to look at private sellers. You might pass by a car or truck in someone's yard with the price painted on the windows or windshield. You might check online and contact the person selling the vehicle directly and work out a deal with them. However, this can be more risky. You have only their word that the car is in good quality and has the amount of miles on it that the odometer says it does (beware odometer fraud!). You'll probably also need to pay the price upfront.
How Do I Find a Good Used Car?
Figure out your budget and then do some research about what cars tend to make good used cars. Is there a year's model that you want to avoid? Do you want your car to be no more than five years old? Be sure to obtain a vehicle history report and get in touch with the seller over the phone or by email, before going out to see the car. Always test drive the car and get it inspected by a professional.
A used car can be a great option for someone buying their first car and offers a measure of affordability to the purchase.