5 Ways to Find Late Model Used Cars

5 ways to find late model used automobilesBuying late model used cars is an option being exercised by more and more Americans. With the economy struggling to recover and consumer prices continue to rise, buying used just makes sense to a lot of people. If you’re in the market for a late model used car, we’ve listed below five ways to find that great vehicle you’re looking for.

While you’re shopping for cars, you can also shop for car insurance online by entering your ZIP code into our FREE search tool!

For purposes of definition, we’ll use the state code of Michigan and its reference to what qualifies as a late model used car. According to Section 257.2 4b, a late model passenger vehicle is one that weighs less than 8,000 pounds and has been manufactured sometime within the last five years.

Advantages of a Late Model Used Car

Before we get into discussing the ways you can find great used cars, you might be wondering what the advantages are of going with this option. There are a few, but the primary advantage is financial.5 ways to find late model used cars

Consumer Reports Magazine did some extensive research back in 2008 to compare the total cost of ownership between a brand-new vehicle and a late model used car. Though the study is four years old, not much is changed since then.

Consumer Reports’ research showed that, in most cases, purchasing a three year-old vehicle provided the best value for the dollar over the first five years of your ownership.

They estimated that most consumers would save enough money to pay for all of their gas during that five-year period based on a price of $4 per gallon.

The numbers they arrived at were based on number of factors, including average maintenance and repairs, insurance costs, and the amount of interest the typical consumer would pay on a loan. For one of the vehicles they researched, the savings amounted to $13,000 over five years. That pretty much sums up why more and more people are opting for late model used cars.

Your Local Franchise Auto Dealerfive ways to find late model used cars

Perhaps the most common place Americans look for quality late model used cars is their local franchise auto dealer. A franchise dealer is one that works with a specific manufacturer to carry that company’s vehicles. The dealer will use the manufacturer’s logo and name, and will participate in all of their normal marketing programs.

Franchise dealers usually only carry the best late model used cars available in the local area. If they take a car on trade that doesn’t meet minimum standards of quality, they will often sell that car to a wholesaler or a junkyard. The ones for sale on their lot are almost always the best of the best.

One of the main advantages of buying your late model used car from a franchise dealer is the support they provide after the sale.

Some offer lifetime oil changes, others help owners stick to a regular maintenance schedule, and still others offer a number of other benefits.

The downside of purchasing from a franchise dealer is the fact that their prices tend to be fairly high. Remember that the franchise dealer has a sales team and a facility to pay for. Those things aren’t cheap.

5 ways to locate late model used cars

Your Local Independent Dealer

The next way to find late model used cars is through your local independent dealer. An independent dealer does not work with any given manufacture or participate in their marketing programs. As such, the dealership is free to sell any cars that the owner wishes to.

Independent dealers tend to be smaller and less bogged down with overhead; thus, their prices can be a little more affordable.

It’s also not uncommon for them to limit their sales force to just the owner and his immediate family. This also means lower prices because cars are free of commission mark-ups.

The downside to the independent dealer is the reality that some of them are dishonest, fly-by-night operations. Those without long-standing reputations may offer poor quality cars, poor service, and less-than-desirable finance options. When in doubt, go in there to rumble. This is your money. Don’t be swindled by a crook.

To find a reputable independent dealer in your area, check with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) or organizations like the Alabama Independent Auto Dealers Association.

Car Shopping Websites

The age of the Internet has given way to all sorts of online shopping options, including purchasing used cars. Online car shopping websites can be broken down into three different types: auction sites, dealer websites, and broker sites that match sellers with buyers.

5 ways to find late model used vehiclesAuction websites are great place to find a great deal on a quality late model used car. However, you really need to know what you’re doing if you’re going to go this route. Otherwise you could find yourself being scammed in a number of ways. Be very careful when buying a car from an auction site.

The dealer websites we won’t get into, due to the fact that they are simply an extension of your local franchise or independent dealer. As for the broker websites, they might be the most popular of the three online options.

The broker website compiles information provided by auto dealers, print publications, and independent sellers in a searchable database that allows buyers to find what they are looking for quickly. When you shop for cars using one of these sites, you won’t be buying directly from them; rather, you’ll be put in touch with the individual or company selling the vehicle.

Broker websites usually earn their money through advertisements or by charging sellers who want to be included in the database. This makes the broker website as independent as possible. It also makes it the best choice of the online methods.

Your Local Impound, Repo, or Classic Auction

If you like the excitement of the auction experience, you might prefer to shop for your late model used car by visiting local auctions. Car auctions can also be broken down into three types: impound, repo, and classic.

Impound auction, like the ones regularly held by the city of Philadelphia, sell off cars that have been seized by the police or abandoned by their owners on public roads. Wholesalers and independent dealers love these auctions because they’re great places to find a really good deal.

A repo auction is one in which vehicles repossessed by banks are being sold off to satisfy loans. Almost every major city has at least one company that handles repossession auctions. You’ll have to check in your city as to the availability of such auctions and whether or not you’re allowed to attend. Some of them restrict bidding to dealers only.

5 places to find late model used carsThe classic auto auction is one that focuses on cars 25 years old or older. But that doesn’t mean you can’t find late model used cars at one of these auctions.

It’s not uncommon for an owner selling multiple cars to include both his classics and some late model used cars he no longer wants. If you’re unfamiliar with these types of auctions you can look up a company like Mecum.

Private Sellers

Lastly, you can purchase late model used cars by going directly to private sellers. The main advantage of purchasing this way is the opportunity to deal with, in most cases, the original owner. These types of transactions tend to be easier to negotiate as well.

The biggest downside to purchasing from a private seller is the fact that he has no reputation he needs to protect.

A private seller might be more likely than a dealer to lie about the condition of the car he’s selling. He may also not be willing to allow you to have your own mechanic inspect the vehicle.

On the other hand, if you find a private seller who has taken every effort to meticulously care for the car, then you probably have nothing to worry about. These types of sellers can furnish you with records of all the maintenance and repairs, records of any accidents the car might have been involved in, and so on.

checking out late model used cars

The one thing you should absolutely do when purchasing from a private seller is insist that he allow your mechanic to inspect the car. Even among the most honest sellers, you can run into problems with the car that he really didn’t know about. Unless the seller is experienced as a mechanic himself, you really need the opinion of a professional.

Stay within Three Years

If you’re considering purchasing a used car rather than new, it’s wise to go with a late model in order to avoid extensive maintenance and repair issues. As a general rule, new cars usually remain trouble-free for the first five to seven years of ownership. That means, if you follow the advice from Consumer Reports and purchase a three-year-old vehicle, you could easily drive it for an additional three to five years before you start sinking money into repairs.

Be sure to realistically assess your financial situation as well. If you really can’t afford a late model used car without stretching your budget, you might be better off purchasing something older, for cash, and putting some money away until you can purchase something newer.

Don’t forget to enter your ZIP code into our FREE search tool if you want to find the best auto insurance policies at the best prices!

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