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Buying Used Cars? Ask these Questions Yourself



May 15, 2017 – Comments (0)


Once you’ve finally taken the decision of replacing your present car, the next question kicks in – should I go for a new car or a used one? Well, that depends and unfortunately, there is no fixed answer because both new and used cars have their benefits. When making the decision between buying new and used cars, you must examine your unique set of life and financial requirements. If you’re on a tight budget, purchasing a used car sounds like the ideal deal. For instance, your preferred new car costs $20,000 while you can get the same car that is 3 to 4 years old at half of that price. But a used car comes with its own hazards, which could cost you a substantial amount of money. Since the car has been owned and driven by someone previously and you don’t know how well it has been maintained or the way it has been driven, finding what the car’s present condition is can be often difficult to judge. However, if you’ve decided to buy a used car, here’s a useful guide that would help you find the right one.

Why Used Car?

The old adage stands true again here – a brand new car loses thousands of dollars in its value once someone drives it out of the showroom. That’s why used cars come at lower prices. Unquestionably, the new car feel, that scent, single digit mileage, brand new upholstery etc. sound amazing but they don’t come cheap. It’s also the reason you can purchase a 2006 Porsche for the cost of a 2010 Honda. According to CNW Marketing Research, the median price of a brand new car was $25,536 excluding taxes and fees in 2008. The same car can now be worth approximately $13,000. Now the question is – would you want to be the first-hand buyer, who lost around $12,000 or the second owner who saves that amount?

Low Registration Fees

In a majority of states, the rate of your vehicle’s annual registration fee depends on its model year and value. Usually, this rate remains the highest for the first three years and after five years, it levels off. If your state also has similar rules for registration fees, you can save roughly a thousand bucks by circumventing the new car registration process and purchasing a car which is at least three, or even better, five years old.

Depreciation Benefits

Apart from losing a substantial portion of their value instantaneously, new cars also become a big concern to the car owners when regular wear and tear occurs inevitably. Usually, the price of a new car drops around 11% once you drive it out from the showroom meaning a $20,000 car becomes worth of only $17,800 once it leaves the showroom. In addition, a new car can lose up to 40% of its value within the first year and this depreciation continues as time goes by. On the other hand, a used car comes with zero depreciation once it leaves the lot. With a used car, you don’t need to worry about rock chip in its paint or the first parking lot ding because most likely, the previous owner of the car has already taken care of those.

Better Reliability

A significant number of people may feel hesitant when it comes to buying a used car because of the fear of getting an unreliable one. But in reality, you can find well maintained used cars available in the market that are not only safe, dependable but worth the investment as well. You can easily find a used car, which comes with lower mileage, has been well maintained and never met with an accident. Used cars, which have been used for just a few years, often remain in great condition and shape, which makes them come with substantial life expectancy. In addition, used cars usually go through a significant number of tests and you can easily find enough information about the models on the web. On the contrary, a latest car often remains in the testing phase and problems may crop up over time.

No Dealers, High Margins

When you’re purchasing a car at a dealership, whether new or used, you’re most likely going to have to bear fees such as DMV fees and taxes attached, regardless of the condition of the car. Now, for new cars, dealers hit the buyers with destination fees, shipping charges and ‘dealer preparation’. On the other hand, in case of purchasing a used car, you’ll still have to visit the DMV to pay registration, title and tag fees but you won’t have to deal with those crazy fees that dealers add. In addition, it keeps you in a better position of negotiations when you’re at a dealership to purchase a used car.

What to Check?

Used cars aren’t that unreliable which many people may make you think. Modern rustproofing techniques, enhanced mechanical reliability together with durability of materials make the cars better survivors on their own. Yet, it would simply be unwise for anybody to develop a fake sense of security when it comes to purchasing a used car – whether from an independent dealer, a private seller or even through some ‘approved user’ program offered by the main dealer. Obtaining a used car’s history and understanding its credentials are still as crucial as assessing a used car for defects. Fortunately, with a standard amount of forethought and care, you can confidently buy a used car provided you follow some simple guidelines. Of course, it’s never possible for anyone to be 100% sure that a used car won’t exhibit problems one way or the other over time, but you can do your best to make sure the obvious problems associated with used cars are avoided. Remember that once you’re out there in the market to purchase a used car, you’ve to be cautious. Here’s a used car checklist that you must consider when purchasing your vehicle.

Engine: Simply put, engine makes the car moving. This means if it has undergone significant wear and tear, substantial maintenance becomes crucial. The key things you should look for when checking the engine are,

Leaks: One of the simplest things to identify is leaks. There’re different kind of fluids that flow in, under and around the engine. A superbly-maintained vehicle shouldn’t exhibit any leaks.

Head gasket: It’s a slim part that stays between the upper and lower parts of the engine and prevents engine oil or coolant from entering the cylinders of the engine.

Oil: Make sure that the dipstick reading is positioned at the correct level and isn’t discolored. Also look for any general grime and dirt covering any connectors as this is a sign of a poorly-serviced car.

Exhaust smoke colors: Turn on the engine and go to the backside of the car. A little gust of smoke is nothing to worry about but if it continues for minutes, it’s a revealing sign of problems.

Gearbox and clutch: Gearboxes are available in manual and automatic types. However, regardless of the type, the gearbox of the car should employ all gears quietly and smoothly. The clutch biting point (which is the point that makes you feel the car has started moving when freeing the clutch pedal) should be around the center of pedal’s travel. In case you need to push your foot to the floor, the clutch needs attention.

Bodywork: This is one of the simplest parts of vehicle inspection. Look for any replacement panels or repainting that might reveal the vehicle has met with an accident. Also check the door seals for substantial leaks and any panel gaps.

Wheels and tyres: This is another crucial external check and if it doesn’t go well, simply negotiate some amount of money off the car’s price because wheels and tires don’t come cheap. Check all four wheels and search for signs of damages. Grazes from kerbstones aren’t major problems but if you find large dents or bent in the rims, then you would need to replace or repair them. Tyres should be free of splits, cuts, bulges or gouges. If you find any, they’ll require replacing.

Interior: By checking the interior of a used car, you can easily get an idea about the genuineness of its mileage. A car that shows 15,000 miles on the meter should have interiors looking almost like that of a new car. If the interior is worn and tired and the clock still shows the same miles, then the seller might be hiding something. Look for tears or rips in the upholstery, sagging roof lining and holes drilled in dashboard. If that’s okay with you, it’s fine but if it’s not, then bargain to get some amount off the car’s price for repairing them.

Test Drive Taken?

Once you’re done with thorough examination of the car, it’s time to sit behind the steering. Though many buyers don’t like to do this, it’s a must-do thing. Any good dealer will happily accompany you in this. Test the car in different places such as on roads, in large parking lots and at different speeds. When taking a test drive, check out the following components:

Steering-wheel alignment

Windshield wipers


Power windows

Air conditioning and heating

Headlights, taillights and directional lights


When you’ve tested the above, turn off the music system/radio and try to listen to any odd sounds that may indicate problems.

Which is Best Place?

Purchasing a used car comprises of making a significant number of decisions. A crucial one among these is from where you’ll buy the car – from a private party or a car dealer. Both have their own pros and cons and you will need to understand the differences to obtain an advantageous deal. Here, we bring you the advantages and disadvantages of both.

Private party purchase:


A majority of the private parties use the ‘blue book’ value to decide on the asking price.

Sometimes, you’ll be able to negotiate more with private sellers because they often become quite eager to get rid of their used cars.


The vehicle won’t come with a warranty because most private parties sell the cars on ‘as is’ basis.

Private parties aren’t bound to adhere to the same stringent federal and state laws as the dealers do.

Usually, you would need more footwork to find the right used car.

Usually, any trade-in option isn’t available here because sellers want cash and not your present vehicle.

Depending on the state where you live, it’s your responsibility to make sure that the car is up-to-date in terms of statutory requirements

You and the private party are responsible for every paperwork involved in the deal.

Getting the vehicle inspected by a trusted mechanic depends mainly on the seller’s time, not yours.

Dealership purchase:


You’ll be in a better position to bargain because a quick deal is synonymous to a fast profit for dealers.

You can perform your own research on a dealer before visiting its showroom.

Most of the dealers sell used cars with warranty.


They usually advocate dealership finance.

Prices are pre-determined.

Sometimes, the trade-in price may not be the best price.

Chances are there of getting ripped off when it comes to purchasing a used car from a dealer because some dealers tend to offer substantially less trade-in amount compared to the actual worth of your present vehicle.


Having a new car sounds great, but is the price actually worth paying? Well, invest some more time on research about your requirement and affordability and you can obtain a clear idea of the amount that you would need to pay for becoming the first owner of your next car. Considering everything from initial price to long-term expenses, you will find that it’s prudent to go for a well-maintained slightly-used car.

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