How to Buy a Used Car

May 7th 2016

How to Buy a Used Car

Shopping for a vehicle is already stressful enough; however, the challenge of finding a reliable, safe and quality vehicle only becomes more stressful when shopping for a used car. Consequently, it is important to understand how to buy a used car without buying a lemon. On the one hand, buying a used vehicle can save money because it has already depreciated. However, on the flip side, when you purchase a used vehicle, you are potentially inheriting another person's problems. As a result, knowing what to look for and what vehicles to avoid is imperative when searching for a great used vehicle. 

The Three Best Used Vehicles

Before beginning your search for a used vehicle, it is important to determine your wish list. Be sure to ask yourself whether you want an SUV, sedan, convertible coupe or any other type of body style. Once you know what body style you want, ask yourself what features you can and cannot live without. Be sure to determine a budget for a vehicle that you can afford, and don't overextend yourself by looking at a car that is too expensive. When it comes to finding a used vehicle, there are three models that stand out from the competition:
1. 2007-2011 Ford Fusion: Since the Fusion is standard with a slew of safety features not commonly found in this price range, this vehicle is easily one of the best used vehicles on the market. Choose from either AWD or FWD and receive excellent fuel economy. Reliability is above average.
2. 2006-2011 Toyota Avalon: Toyota has long been synonymous with manufacturing safe, reliable and comfortable vehicles, and the Avalon is no exception. Not only does this roomy sedan offer seating for five and plenty of space for gear, but the Avalon also has many features that are only found in a more expensive Lexus.
3. 2006-2011 Toyota Highlander: Offering above average cargo space, a luxurious interior and room for up to seven, the Toyota Highlander is the best choice for a used SUV. Choose from either a fuel efficient 4-cylinder or a powerful V6 that is sure to deliver tens of thousands of trouble-free miles. 

The Three Used Vehicles to Avoid

Unfortunately, not every vehicle is as good as its competition. Consequently, it is best to know what used vehicles you should never buy. Avoid these three used vehicles like the plague, and opt for one of the three best used vehicles previously discussed. 
1. 2003-2010 Nissan Altima: The Altima may be one of the best-selling sedans in the U.S.; however, the model has not been without its fair share of problems. Altimas manufactured between 2003 and 2010 have had serious battery problems, air conditioning failures and brake issues. Although completely redesigned in 2013, be wary when purchasing an Altima that was made between 2003 and 2010.
2. BMW 3-Series: The BMW may be considered the ultimate driving machine; however, they are also among the most expensive vehicles to maintain. Furthermore, since a person who purchases a used car is often buying a vehicle that is no longer covered by the factory warranty, you will be responsible for paying any maintenance and repair costs for it. Unless you can afford to buy new, purchasing a used BMW is best left for another person.
3. Jeep Grand Cherokee: Despite being billed as a rugged vehicle, the Jeep Grand Cherokee lacks in reliability. Specifically, the Grand Cherokee has been plagued by electrical issues, water pump problems and much more. 

Avoid Traps at the Used Car Lot

If buying a used vehicle from a private party, be sure to do your due diligence prior to signing on the dotted line. Ask the owner to see all maintenance records for the vehicle and provide a Carfax report. If you care not a car expert, ask a reliable mechanic or friend to join you and ask them to perform a visual inspection of the vehicle. Never buy a vehicle without taking it for a test drive and having it checked over for any obvious problems. When purchasing from a dealership, be wary of any dealer that offers a used vehicle at a price far below market value. Any vehicle priced too inexpensively should be an automatic red flag. If purchasing through eBay, Craigslist or a similar website, always do your best to see the vehicle before purchasing it. Pictures and words can mask obvious problems that may only be apparent if you see the vehicle in person. 
Sources:
http://www.edmunds.com/car-buying/10-steps-to-buying-a-used-car.html
http://www.edmunds.com/car-reviews/best-used-cars-2013.html
http://editorial.autos.msn.com/15-used-cars-to-avoid
http://usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/cars-trucks/6-Used-Car-Traps-and-How-to-Avoid-Them-/

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