How To Choose A Used Car

Staff Reports • Mar 2, 2017 at 8:00 AM

AN INTRODUCTION TO BUYING A USED CAR  Purchasing a new vehicle is often an exciting experience, especially since buying a car is usually the second largest acquisition one will make in a lifetime, next to buying a house. You can choose exactly what you want, the car is readily available, the warranty is fresh, and obviously the car is new and free of problems. These are all reasonable points, but the option of buying used has many benefits. 

Quite obviously, most consumers top for used cars for financial reasons. Simply put, the price of a used car may be 50 percent less than the latest model even if the used model is fairly recent.

Depreciation is the factor behind these savings, as the new vehicle drops in value the moment it is driven off the dealer’s lot. In fact, during the first year alone a car will depreciate at least 20 percent, and will continue to drop in decreasing increments every year thereafter.

The prospective used car buyer can take advantage of a vehicle that is only a few years old, but is mechanically and physically sound, still looks terrific, and has a great price tag. With the incredible savings, you can get practically the same vehicle as the latest model and save money, or a higher end model that one could normally not afford can be purchased for much less.

The latter scenario can often buy a vehicle with more performance, safety, and luxury features that you might need, but would be our of reach if purchased new.

Buying a used car through a dealer has become less of a challenge, although consumers should still educate themselves and arrive at the dealership armed with information. The used car you have in mind should be researched online for consumer reports, manufacturer recalls and blue book price.

Online services such as www.danwachtel.com will provide quick and easy quotes on vehicles so that you do not overpay for a used vehicle. Other web sites such as “CarFax Lemon Check” will provide the vehicle history by running the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) through a check.

Using these resources and comparing the information gathered to local dealer web sites and used vehicle publications will give you a solid basis for making a reasonable and educated offer on a used vehicle. These guidelines also apply to private sales, although you should be aware that most of these vehicles are sold as is and the sale is final. Again, online research will reveal the vehicle’s history. 

With the progress being made at the dealership level with used vehicles, buying a “nearly new” car has become a practical option. Combined with the numerous reputable online services providing insider information much of the uncertainty traditionally associated with used cars has been eliminated. With patience and thorough research, you can avoid paying too much and will leave a dealer or private sale with an excellent vehicle. Whether you buy a used car from a dealer, a co-worker, or a neighbor, follow these tips to learn as much as you can about the car: • Examine the car yourself using an inspection list. You can find a checklist in many of the magazine articles, books and internet sites that deal with buying a used car. • Talk to the previous owner if possible, especially if the present owner is unfamiliar with the car’s history.


1. Check out the car’s repair record, maintenance costs, and safety and mileage ratings in consumer magazines or on line.

2. Develop a professional relationship with a dealer in your area. Dealers are very accomadating to regular customers.

3. Buying from a dealer? Look for the Buyers Guide. It’s required by a federal regulated called the Used Car Rule.

4. Make sure all oral promises are written into the Buyers Guide.

5. You have the right to see a copy of the dealer’s warranty before you buy. Warranties are included in the price of the products; service contracts cost extra and are sold separately.

6. Ask for the car’s maintenance record from the owner, dealer, or repair shop.

7. Test drive the car on hills, highways, and in stop and go traffic.

8. Have the car inspected by a mechanic you hire.

9. Keep in mind the reputation of the dealership for honest and integrity whenever looking at new or used vehicles.

10. If you buy a car “as is”, you’ll have to pay for anything that goes wrong after the sale. The Used Car Rule is generally doesn’t apply to private sales.


1. Decide what type of vehicle meets your needs.

2. Locate a used car from a local dealer’s classified ads. This will provide you with available vehicles and prices in your area.

3. You may want to run a Carfax Record Check on the car. Before you buy, simply type in the VIN into their form and you will see if it has been stolen, in an accident, had the speedometer tampered with, number of owners, etc. This step can save you thousands of dollars. Visit Carfax.com for details.

4. Figure out your auto insurance costs up front. Don’t wait until the last minute to find out that insurance costs are too high. Once you have an idea of what you want you can get an insurance quote from your agent.

5. Protect your vehicle with an extended warranty (Service Contract) It makes good sense! An extended warranty protects you from mechanical breakdowns that can cost you an arm and a leg. It is one of the few insurance policies where you may get your money’s worth.

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