What is the best way to find used cars?
One of the best ways to get a great deal on a car is to opt for a used model rathe than a brand new one from a dealer. These used models are often a great combination of value and quality, but it takes a good bit of effort and research to find one that works both with a tight budget and a high standard of quality. There are several great resources that used car buyers should consider when they’re in the market for a new vehicle.
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Traditional Car Dealerships
Though the primary goal of a traditional car dealership is to sell new cars to ambitious buyers, they accept trade-ins as a form of down payment on those vehicles and must sell them in order to recoup their bottom line and make a healthy profit. Used vehicles sold through a traditional car dealership are often marketed as “certified” used cars, meaning the dealership has given he car a thorough top-to-bottom inspection that assures the good quality of the vehicle’s engine, interior, and exterior appearance.
These used models also often come with a robust warranty — several thousand miles, or several years of service, that will be performed by the dealership at little to no charge if any issues arise. This is a benefit that buyers simply won’t be able to find with a private seller, and those who don’t have room in their budget for vehicle maintenance and repair would be well-advised to consider this as their primary purchasing option.
Used Car Dealerships
Next to traditional car lots, used car dealers are the next-best way to land a great used vehicle with a solid warranty and a commitment to service. Because these dealers trade exclusively in used vehicles, they’re more experienced with a diverse array of makes and models; that means their mechanics are more aware of the typical problems that might plague a wide range of used cars and they’ll be better able to inspect, certify, and service a used model.
Used car dealerships also have much more flexible financing options for buyers, and those financing options can work with more restrained budgets, potential credit blemishes, and special payment needs. This is a great option for cash-strapped consumers who require a more personal, knowledgeable touch than is typically offered by the combination of traditional car dealerships and big bank financing.
Internet Marketplaces: Craigslist, AutoTrader, eBay, and Others
The Internet is a wonderful place to search for used cars at a great price, largely because it allows customers to leave the dealer (and their potentially high fees) behind and deal directly with the seller of the vehicle. And, because there is no dealer who wishes to make a profit on the vehicle, used car buyers will typically find that private sellers offer better prices on used vehicles. For the budget-minded used car shopper, using a site like AutoTrader is perhaps the best option.
Of course, it’s worth noting that dealing with private sellers means that financing a used car is no longer an option. Most — if not all — private sellers will require the full price of the vehicle up front. And, unlike dealers which will add a state’s taxes and fees into a car’s loan amount, customers will have to pay those charges up front as soon as they purchase the vehicle. Still, this is a great way to get a used car for a lower sticker price while leaving behind the high-pressure sales atmosphere of a dealership.
After the Sale is Completed
Of course, buying a used car is just the beginning. In addition to paying state taxes and registration fees for the new vehicle, customers will have to call their current car insurance company and inform them of the vehicle purchase. This will prompt the insurance company to adjust their rates and fees based on the vehicles year, mileage, and overall value, as well as the customer’s driving and payment record over the course of their relationship with the insurance company.
While some customers might prefer simply to stick with their existing insurance company, it’s worth noting that a new car is the perfect time to compare rates between other car insurers. Each car insurance company treats certain vehicle makes and models differently, so it’s possible that a better deal can be found with a competitor. Used car buyers should use their purchase as an excuse to complete an online comparison quote between the major national insurers — and local companies which may offer a better quote on their new car.
These insurance comparisons will allow customers get a better idea of just how much their new used car will cost them over the course of the next three, six, or twelve months, and they’ll be in a better negotiating position with their existing insurer when asking about rates, discounts, and policies.
Consider All Options and Shop Intelligently
Buying a used car can be a complex and stressful process, but both of those things can be eased by paying attention to detail, doing extensive research on car make and models, and knowing what to expect from dealers, private sellers, and car insurance companies. A consumer armed with knowledge is in a powerful negotiating position on all fronts.
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