The Art of Negotiating and Setting Your Target Price

Why do so many people end up overpaying for their used car? More often than not, the scary truth is that they did not take the time to set a target price. Most will unfortunately walk onto the car lot or into the showroom and use the window sticker price as their starting point.

 

Your Target Price Should Not Be the Sticker Price

Always remember, your target price is not the sticker price. In terms of sticker price, every car in the dealership’s lot should offer a price identified as the Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price (MSRP).

 

The reality is that this listed price is often marked above what the dealer actually expects to receive in payment. When selling used cars, many dealerships will run sales that promote a certain percentage or set amount off MSRP or sticker price.

 

What Should Your Target Price Be?

Your target price is the number below the sticker price, but above what the dealer actually paid for the car (dealers still need to make a profit to stay in business).

 

Calculating dealer costs is a little easier than you would suspect. A number of websites and car buying price guides offer this information. You will also want to subtract any current dealer sales incentives and hold-back amounts from this figure. ConsumerReports.org  offers a great service for looking up this information.

 

Once you have gathered this information, it’s time to negotiate. A good bit of advice is to assume that the dealer needs you more than you need them. If they refuse to settle on a price that is 1 percent to five percent over their actual costs of the vehicle, do not be afraid to walk away. With the current state of today’s economy, it is a car buyer’s market. And if one dealer will not offer the price you want, the next one most likely will.

Best Used Cars Priced Under $10,000

Due to ever-rising standards in reliably, safety and engineering, the average life-cycle for all cars continues to increase. This is great news for the used car buyer with a limited pocketbook. And in order to help you with your search for a used car that offers reliability, style and safety – but at a price that you can afford – UsedCars.com has put together this list of the best used cars for under $10,000:

 

2006 – 2009 Kia Optima:

Too often, the Kia Optima gets overlooked because of an association with a lower price tag. However, if you are a used car buyer looking to find a car that is a virtual steal for less than $10,000, the Optima should be added to the top of your list. Not only have these cars been recognized for their reputation for reliability, but a roomy interior and sleek exterior styling adds a high-end appeal – just without that high-end price tag.

 

  • Consumer Reports – 2007 Overall Test score: 75/100
  • NHTSA – 2007 Average crash rating: 4.75/5 .0
  • JD Power and Associates: 2009 Predicted reliability score: 4/5

 

 

2006- 2007 Ford Fusion:

Making its debut to the car buying world in 2006, what the Ford Fusion set out to offer was a sophisticated driving experience that fell in the price range of the modern family-minded car buyer. And it’s this area where the Fusion continues to impress – even today. So if you are looking for a used car under $10,000 that offers enough room and comfort to meet your ever-evolving needs, not many other cars can match:

 

  • Consumer Reports – 2010 Overall Test score: 84/100
  • NHTSA – 2006 Average crash rating: 4.25/5 .0
  • JD Power and Associates: 2006 Predicted reliability score: 4/5

 

2005-2010: Nissan Versa: Available in a sedan or hatchback, what initially made the Nissan Versa so appealing was the sophisticated styling and engineering it offered, but at a moderate price. And now, just a little more than a half a decade later, the Versa continues to offer this same appeal. So when searching for that perfect combination of fuel economy, reliability, and spacious interior, you will be hard-pressed to find a better value:

 

Test scores for the 2007 model year include:

  • Consumer Reports – Overall Test score: 64/100
  • NHTSA – Average crash rating: 4.25/5 .0
  • JD Power and Associates: Predicted reliability score: 2/5

 

 

2002 – 2006 Audi A4: With average used car list prices hovering between $5,000 and $10,000, the Audi A4 is perfect for the luxury minded car buyer who doesn’t want to empty their bank account. With a handsome, well-finished cabin, sharp handling and turbocharged engine, this sophisticated sedan is capable of delivering luxury and comfort, while also placing a premium on acceleration and performance.

 

  • Consumer Reports – 2002 Overall Test score: 75/100
  • NHTSA – 2002 Average crash rating: 4.1/5 .0
  • JD Power and Associates: 2006 Predicted reliability score: 4/5

 

2004-2006 Mini Cooper: With its uniquely designed exterior and responsive handling, it’s easy to overlook the Mini Cooper’s reputation for reliability. What’s more is that with a light-weight design and five speed 121-horsepower engine, this fun and funky little compact car adds the appeal of performance:

 

  • Consumer Reports – 2008 Overall Test score: 64/100
  • NHTSA – 2003 Average crash rating: 4.0/5 .0
  • JD Power and Associates: 2006 Predicted reliability score: 3/5 

Best Cars for Teens: How to Find the Best (Safest) Car for Your Teen

Think your teen is safe behind the wheel? Think again. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety,  the crash rate per mile driven for 16-19 year-olds is around 3 times higher when compared to drivers ages 20 and older. The rate is even greater when only including the crash statistics of 16-year-olds, who due to immaturity and lack of experience are involved in more driving fatalities than any other age group. Using this information as a gauge, it should seem obvious that for a parent choosing a vehicle for their teenage driver, safety is a driving concern.

 

Your safety criteria, however, should not be limited to dual front airbags and a full complement of seatbelts. While those features serve to protect your teen in the event of a crash, other safety features, such as Electronic Stability Control (ESC) and antilock brakes, actually help correct driving mistakes. For inexperienced teen drivers, these features may help your teen avoid an accident altogether.

 

Factor in Affordability

As of 2012, Antilock Braking Systems, ESC and dual front airbags are now requirements for all new vehicles. This is great news for parents purchasing a 2013 or newer model year for their teen. They can feel secure with the knowledge that their child is being protected by some of the most up-to-date safety features.

 

Unfortunately for many parents, newer model cars are out of their price range. Because affordability is an issue, they must choose from a list of used cars, some of which may be several years old. The good news is that even if price is driving your selection, you do not have to sacrifice safety. By knowing where to find safety ratings for each vehicle, you can still feel confident that your teen is being protected.

 

Where to Find the Safety ratings

Finding the safety ratings on available used cars does not have to be a challenge. You can check with either the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).  Both these websites conduct independent crash and safety inspections, rating a vehicle’s ability to withstand an impact. Because of this they are a great starting point for sifting through all the available used cars.

 

At UsedCars.com, we have put together a list of some of the vehicles that have topped the safety lists over the last ten years. When it comes to both safety and affordability for your teen driver, some cars to consider include:

Guide to Fuel Efficiency: Alternative Fuels

In the simplest of terms, an alternative fueled vehicle is any vehicle that does not run on gasoline or diesel. Instead, its fuel comes from a non-petroleum based source – like natural gas, corn or another plant-based byproduct. Because most of these resources are renewable and produced domestically, the cited benefits are far ranging: leading to reduced dependency on foreign imports, extended oil supplies and reduced emissions.

 

This guide examines two of today’s more popular alternative fuel options: E85 Ethanol and Compressed Natural Gas (CNG). Read on to learn about the advantages and disadvantages of each option.

 

E85 Ethanol

Ethanol fuel is an alcohol-based fuel composed of fermented and distilled starch crops. (e.g. corn). It’s important to note that this not a new technology.  In fact, about one-third of all gasoline currently sold in the United States contains some amount of ethanol. And most cars are capable of using a mixture that contains as much as 10% ethanol and 90% gasoline.

 

Advantages of E85 Ethanol: What makes an E85 engine standout is that the mixture is mainly ethanol based, with 85% coming from ethanol and 15% coming from conventional gasoline. This not only reduces the United States’ dependency on foreign oil, it stretches the earth’s current supply of oil (which is not renewable) and results in lower emissions.

 

Disadvantages of E85 Ethanol: Opponents of ethanol based fuel point to the fact that ethanol production requires the burning of petroleum based products to plant crops and operate refineries – which of course would seem to offset any environmental benefits. Additionally, vehicles using E85 get worse fuel efficiency when compared to their gasoline counterparts. E85 is also hard to find, with only about 1 percent of all the gas stations in the United States offering E85.

Search For Your Next Green Car

Our Fuel Economy Search helps you find a car by minimum Air Pollution Score, Greenhouse Gas Score, and Fuel Economy desired.

www.usedcars.com/find-economy-vehicles.aspx

 

Because ethanol engines are not a new technology, there are a number of cars on the roadways currently capable of running on E85. Known as Flexible Fuel Vehicles (FFV, these cars include:

  • Ford Focus FFV
  • Chevrolet Malibu FFV
  • GMC Terrain E85 Flex Fuel
  • Ford Ranger E85 FFV

 

Compressed Natural Gas

Another alternative fuel that is slowly beginning to see increased popularity in the mainstream marketplace is Compressed Natural Gas (CNG). But even though automakers like Honda are touting these clean fuel alternatives as the next big thing in the world of green energy, it’s important to note that this is not a new technology. Instead manufacturers have been producing cars capable of running on natural gas as far back as the 1930s.

 

Advantages of CNG: Low costs and cleaner emissions are two of the primary advantages of CNG. Not only does natural gas cost about a third of gasoline, but it burns much cleaner, resulting in reduced carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxide emissions.

 

Disadvantages of CNG: The major disadvantage of CNG is availability. In truth, natural gas fueling stations are hard to find; and in some areas, CNG is not available at all, even in the form of an at home fueling station.

 

Even though CNG is not a new technology, it has not been until recently that automakers have begun producing these vehicles for the general public. Examples of today’s modern CNG powered vehicle includes:

  • Honda Civic GX CNG
  • Chevrolet Silverado 2500 CNG
  • Dodge Ram 2500 CNG

Used Car Financing Guide: Glossary of Terms

Seeking financing for a used car can be overwhelming. Lending institutions and dealers use specific terminology that help them define the terms of the loan agreement. And while terms like APR, Gap Protection, and Principal make sense to the experts, for the uninitiated used car buyer not understanding what these words actually mean can place them at a disadvantage.

 

To help you avoid this, we created the following glossary list of common used car loan definitions. If you know of any we might have missed – let us know by commenting below.

Amortization: This refers to the process of paying off a loan over a period of time using regular installment payments.

 

APR (Annual Percentage Rate): Because varying interest rate structures (e.g. compound and simple interest rates) can make it hard to compare one loan with the next, an APR is an attempt to standardize the computations and provide a number that is easily comparable regardless of the type of the loan. To accomplish this, APR measures the interest rate for a whole year (annualized), rather than just a monthly fee/rate.

 

Balance: This refers to the amount you owe on a loan.

 

Co-Signer: A cosigner is someone who agrees to assume equal responsibility for the repayment of the loan. Cosigners are sometimes used if a buyer’s credit rating prevents them from qualifying for a loan on their own.

 

Delinquency: This refers to failure to make a loan payment or meet your loan obligations. This time period should be defined in the loan contract.

 

Down Payment: When you purchase a vehicle with a loan, this represents the money you pay at the beginning of the agreement to lower the total amount you finance.

 

Gap Protection: Gap protection is a form of insurance that covers the difference between the amount you owe on a car and what it is actually worth.  For example, if you still owe $10,000 on a car that was recently stolen, but the insurance company only values the car at $9,000, gap insurance will cover the difference.

 

Equity: If your car is worth more than what you owe, this difference is known as positive equity.

 

Grace Period: This is the period of time between when a loan payment is due and when you will be charged a penalty fee.

 

MSRP (Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price) New cars are listed with an MSRP price tag. This is the price suggested to the dealer by the manufacturer. Note: MSRP does not always reflect vehicle options, nor does it take into account regional price fluctuations and popularity. For this reason, the actual invoice selling price can vary.

 

Principal: The total amount you owe on a car loan, not including interest.

 

Tax and Title: These are fees that are added to the vehicle’s final invoice price. In most states, car buyers will be required to pay sales tax as well as registration and title fees.

 

Term:  The amount of time during a loan from beginning to end in which a borrower makes payments to repay the debt.

 

Trade-In Value:  If you already own a vehicle, you may have the option of offering it in trade to the dealer. This can be done to lower the overall purchase price. Trade-in value then refers to the amount the vehicle being offered for trade is worth.

Four Costly Winter Driving Mistakes

According to a University of California Berkeley Traffic Safety Center Study fatal car crashes are more likely to happen on the first snowy day of the season than any of the following days.

 

So what can we conclude from these findings? How about a connection between weather related driving accidents and driver error.  Simply stated, the Berkeley Center Study reinforces the idea that most weather related crashes don’t involve mechanical failures –instead they are directly tied to the fault of the driver.

 

To keep you safe and prevent you from adding to these statistics, UsedCars.com has put together this list of common winter driving mistakes:

 

Driving Mistake 1: Driving too fast:

UC Berkley’s Traffic Center also notes that speed is the single greatest cause of serious crashes. But not because drivers fail to obey posted speed limits. Instead, most weather related accidents happen when drivers ignore the deteriorating road conditions and fail to reduce their speed.

 

The takeaway from this is that sometimes driving at the posted speed limit is dangerous. And instead of just driving the recommended speed, you need to take stock of how your car responds to any changing weather patterns. In other words, when snow or ice begins to form on the road, do not feel obligated to continue traveling at high speeds – even if other motorists are zooming on by.

 

Driving Mistake 2: Assuming four-wheel drive means you can’t crash:

Too many drivers think that four-wheel drive (4WD) makes them invincible. If you need proof of this, then the next time you are out on a wintry day, take stock of the number of four-wheel drive vehicles you see stuck in a ditch.

 

The reason for this seems to be the faulty assumption that the added traction from 4WD means that you can continue to travel at super high speeds.  Unfortunately, 4WD does not improve braking or turning. So while you may be okay traveling in a straight line, what happens when you have to come to a sudden stop? Or make a quick turn?

 

Driving Mistake 3: Not preparing:

There is a reason why more weather related accidents happen during the first snowy day of the year than at any other time: It’s because drivers simply are not prepared. Whether your tires are not at an adequate tread depth (you should have at least 6/32” of tread for snow and ice), your wipers are worn, or your fluids are low, this lack of preparedness can lead to a serious accident.

 

Driving Mistake 4: Slamming the brakes

What is the first thing that happens when most drivers feel their car start to slip? They slam on the brakes. And then what happens next? Their car goes spinning out of control.

 

When you slam on your brakes, you are transferring energy from your tires to your brakes – which in turn will cause your tires to lose traction. To avoid this, your best option is to ease off of the accelerator and let your car slow down on its own. Of course, in some cases, braking may be required. In this event, try quickly pumping your brakes.

Four Car Buying Mistakes You Cannot Afford to Make

You have done your homework and found a reliable used car. In fact, you’ve even done the legwork to compare the vehicle’s market value against other similar cars, and you have shopped around for the lowest financing rates. This means the hard part is over, right? And now, getting a great deal on that used car should be as simple as signing your name.

 

Not so fast – Unfortunately, there are still a few mistakes you can make which may result in driving up the price tag. Below is a list of five mistakes that could quickly turn your excitement into buyer’s remorse:

 

  • Letting the dealer payoff the remainder you owe on your trade-in: Some dealers offer to pay off the remainder you owe on your trade-in. Unfortunately, this offer is not as great as it sounds. What happens is the remaining amount of what you owe is rolled into the new car loan. For example, a $25,000 sedan you bought could carry a loan balance of $28,000 to cover the $3,000 you still owe on your trade-in.

 

  • Financing a 6-year or 7-year loan: Low interest rates are not the only part of the loan to consider. You also need to take a long hard look at the length of the loan. A 72-month or even 84-month loan will wind up costing you significantly more than a 60 or 36-month loan.

 

  • Not taking an extended test drive: Always take the car for an extended test drive, even if it has been thoroughly inspected and has a high reliability rating. Short 30 minute test drives are simply not enough time to get an understanding of how the car drives under real-world driving conditions. By taking a test drive  that last a couple of hours, or even keeping the car overnight, you will be able to better tell if you will enjoy driving the vehicle.

 

  • Not considering the cost of insurance: While the sticker price may be low, the car insurance may be more than you expect. Sports cars and vehicles that are common targets among thieves will often come with a higher insurance rate. To avoid this, be sure to call your insurance company before making any decisions.

 

Winter Driving Guide: Maintain Traction This Winter

For many of us, features like traction control, all-wheel drive and winter tires are given little if any consideration during the car buying process. While somewhere in the back our subconscious, we may recognize their importance, we are often more concerned about the vehicle’s flashier, more overt features – like fuel economy, performance, and interior comfort.

 

However, if you have ever lost traction on a snowy or icy road, you are probably aware of just how important those other features are.  Even in moderate climates, where temperatures seldom dip below freezing, road conditions can deteriorate quickly during the winter. And without one, two or all three of the following features, you may find yourself careening out of control:

 

Stability and Traction Control for Snowy and Icy Roads

While traction and stability control are not as effective as All-Wheel Drive (AWD) or Four-Wheel Drive (4WD), these features can help minimize wheel slippage and keep your car pointed in the right direction.

 

  • Traction Control: Traction control monitors the speeds of driven wheels, strategically applying the brakes of a slipping wheel, which in turn works to help the opposite wheel gain traction. Take note that traction controls main purpose is to help the vehicle maintain a little more grip in slippery conditions; it will not help in the event of a skid.
  • Stability Control: Stability control is designed to help the driver maintain control in the event of a slide or skid. In addition to including the benefits of traction control, this system will also apply brakes or control engine power to help keep the car moving straight when a slide is detected.

 

All-Wheel and Four-Wheel Drive

The vast majority of cars come equipped with two-wheel drive – meaning that the engine of the car applies power to only either the front or the rear tires. While this will offer enough stability during normal driving conditions, if traction becomes an issue and the powered wheels lose their grip, you might just find yourself losing control.

 

This is when the existence of all-wheel drive or four-wheel drive becomes important. And while some marketers may use these terms interchangeably, there is a distinct difference between the two.

 

  • Four-Wheel Drive: Four-wheel drive, which provides power to all four wheels, uses low range gearing for off road-conditions.
  • All-Wheel Drive (AWD): AWD also provides power to all four wheels, but lacks the low-gear option – meaning that while AWD cars are perfect for wet, icy and snowy road conditions, they are not suitable for off-road journeys

 

 Winter Tires

The final piece of the winter driving puzzle is tied to snow tires.  Unfortunately, the common misconception is that these tires are strictly relegated to areas that experience heavy snowfall. In reality, however, nothing could be further from the truth. Instead, snow tires are designed to maintain their pliability when the weather turns colder. Unlike all-weather tires, which can harden and lose their grip during colder temperatures, this pliability allows snow tires to continue to keep their grip, even as road conditions deteriorate.

Four Recomended Used Sedans

Buying a used sedan should not mean you are settling for less than the best. In fact, the used car market is full of any number of reliable mid-size sedans – each offering an array of high-tech and luxury comfort features.

 

To help with your search for a premier car at an affordable price, UsedCars.com has gone ahead a done a little research for you. Browse below to search through our listing of some of the best used sedans on the market:

 

2007– 2012 Nissan Altima:

With an average used car price tag that ranges between $10,000 and $20,000, this fourth generation Nissan Altima is a virtual steal for any car buyer searching for a sedan that offers the compelling mix of finesse, power and driving comfort. With its 175-horsepower engine and sports tuned suspension, these used sedans are able to offer a rewarding ride, while still affording enough room and interior comfort for multiple passengers.

 

Test scores for the 2010 model year include:

  • Consumer Reports – Overall Test Score: 91/100
  • NHTSA – Average crash rating: 4.4/5 .0
  • JD Power and Associates: Predicted reliability score: 3/5

 

2008 – 2009 Chevy Malibu:

If a reliable, roomy and fun to drive car with an affordable price tag is what you are after, then this generation of Chevrolet Malibu is almost certain to deliver. With its responsive design and roomy interior, this third generation Malibu offers high-end appeal at budget car pricing. Add in the mid-size sedan’s high safety rankings, and it becomes the perfect choice for the family minded car buyer.

 

Test scores for the 2009 model year include:

  • Consumer Reports – Overall Test Score: 74/100
  • NHTSA – Average crash rating: 4.8/5 .0
  • JD Power and Associates: Predicted reliability score: 3.0/.05

 

2009 – 2012 Hyundai Genesis:

What a used Hyundai Genesis offers is luxury car comfort at affordable car pricing. Many of these later model sedans can be found for under $20,000 – included with this low price is a number of standard comfort features, including dual-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, heated front seats, seven-speaker sound system, satellite radio and iPod compatibility. Add in the Hyundai Genesis’s strong record of continued reliability, and it easy to see why this sedan continues to rank among one of the most popular used cars on the market.

 

Test scores for the 2010 model year include:

  • Consumer Reports – Overall Test Score: 87/100
  • NHTSA – Average crash rating: 5.0/5 .0
  • JD Power and Associates: Predicted reliability score: 4/5

 

2010 – 2012 Ford Fusion:

This second generation Ford Fusion offers that compelling mix of budget car pricing and high-end appeal. While this mid-size sedan was built for the everyman, it has a number of standard comfort features, including alloy wheels, full power accessories, auxiliary audio jack, blind-spot mirrors, and the Ford Sync System. Better yet, the Fusion has received continuous high praise in terms of reliability, making it a great choice on the used car market.

 

Test scores for the 2010 model year include:

  • Consumer Reports –  Overall Test Score: 76/100
  • NHTSA – Average crash rating: 4.6/5 .0
  • JD Power and Associates: Predicted reliability score: 5.0/5 

Performing the Initial Inspection

When buying a used car, most car buyers struggle with the details that the dealer will tend to focus their attention on, rather than looking at what’s important. Things like color, sports packaging, power windows, heated seats, and undercarriage coating. Before they know it, they end up with a car that does’t fit their lifestyle, is overpriced, and has one too many miles.

 

Don’t let this happen to you. By knowing what to do during the initial used car inspection, you can save yourself a few potential headaches (and hopefully a little money).

 

Stay in research mode:

While you have spent a good amount of time researching your next used car you’ll want to stay in that research mode while talking with the dealer in-person. Let the car sales representative know that you are just looking. You are not intending to buy. Instead, you are only there to review and potentially test the drive the car.

 

Used car dealers will at times deter from spending time you if they don’t feel you a serious buyer. So be sure to let them know that you are serious, but want to cover all your options before purchasing. In addition car sales representatives will often try to entice you to buy that same day – a tactic that can cloud the inspection process. Just be firm and know what you need to look over while you are there.

 

Inspect the interior first:

You spend most of your time in the interior of your car  so make this your priority. Questions to consider when inspecting the interior include:

 

  • Is the interior quiet? Is it comfortable?
  • Are the controls easy to operate and within reach?
  • Do the radio, heater, A/C, horn and windshield wipers operate as expected?
  • Are any of the dashboard warning lights illuminated?
  • Are the seats and upholstery worn, cracked or stained?
  • Does it smell and look clean?

 

Don’t get caught up in a flashy exterior:

The exterior styling of the used car is designed to grab attention and evoke emotion. But even if a flashy design is a priority, do not let this be your deciding factor. Instead, make sure to conduct a full 360-degree inspection of the exterior – keeping the following questions in mind:

 

  • Are the seams between body panels and doors even and well-spaced?
  • Is the paint an even color, and does it offer a smooth and glossy shine?
  • Are there minor (or major) dents, scratches or rust spots?
  • Do all exterior lights operate?
  • Are the tires worn or underinflated?
  • Is the windshield free of cracks?

 

Remember, this initial inspection is just the beginning. If the used car passes your inspection, do not rush to buy. There still may be a major flaw you have overlooked. In addition, ask for a vehicle history report, and if the car has been checked by a certified mechanic.

How Much Car Can You Afford?

So you finally decided to buy your dream car. Maybe it’s that shiny red sports car – you know the one that looks like it is going 500 mph even when it’s standing still. Or, maybe it’s that heavy-duty off-road behemoth of a pickup truck – the one capable of hauling a gazillion tons.

Whatever the case, everyone has a dream car. The trick is determining whether you can really afford it.

How much should you pay each month?

Too many car buyers overestimate how much they can afford each month. In reality, your car payment should not exceed 10% of your monthly take home pay – and ideally it really should not be more than 5%. Take note: this includes all your car payments – regardless of whether you are paying for one car or three.

 

At UsedCars.com, we offer a car affordability calculator.  Simply enter in how much you would like to pay each month, along with a couple of other minor details (like interest rate and the amount of money you are putting down), and we can help approximate a price that matches your budget.

How much is the new car really costing you?

A monthly car payment is just the beginning. Buying or leasing a new or used car is also accompanied by a host of additional expenses, including:

 

  • Insurance: If you are taking out a loan on a new or used car, you will probably incur a higher car insurance rate.  Before you sign the final paperwork, call your car insurance company to determine the insurance rates for that specific vehicle.
  • Impact at the Pump: Are you trading in a compact car for a larger family sedan? What you are paying at the pump might end up costing you more than you suspect. Visit FuelEconomy.Gov  to compare the fuel efficiency between vehicles.
  • Unscheduled (and even scheduled) Maintenance: For used cars, simple maintenance items, like new tires, tire rotations, oil changes and wiper blades, may require your attention sooner than you suspect. Even if you are buying new, your vehicle’s scheduled maintenance requirements will be a noteworthy monthly expense.

 

Remember: being approved for a new or used car loan  is not the same as being able to afford a new car. Before you agree to any monthly payments, take the time to ensure that this new expense won’t stretch your bank account.

 

The Value of a Vehicle History Report

A vehicle history report from a reputable source offers a quick glimpse into how a vehicle was used after leaving factory floor. This is an invaluable tool for the car buyer, and it has become a critical part of the used car buying process. Just a few of the items a vehicle history report provides insight on include:

 

The Title

 

  • Validity of the Title: Through the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), the history report may be able to identify if the vehicle was stolen or if the title is fraudulent

 

  • Major Accidents: Vehicles in major car accidents are sometimes reported as salvage to the state.

 

  • Lemon: New cars that are bought back by the dealer due to mechanical problems are issued a lemon title. A vehicle history report may offer insight into lemon history and reported lemon titles.

 

  • Flood: Cars that have suffered flood damage are sometimes moved to other states and sold to unsuspecting customers. If the used car you are interested in buying has had flood damage reported to the state, this may be listed in the history report.

 

History of Ownership

 

  • Number of Owners: Statistics prove that there is the fewer owners a used vehicle has the more reliable it is. History reports like CARFAX® will show you exactly how many owners the vehicle has had.

 

  • Rental or Fleet: Was the car used as a rental or part of a fleet? If it has been, it may have been abused or driven carelessly by previous drivers.

 

  • Odometer Reading: Many history reports will report on the last odometer reading reported to the state

 

Accident History

 

  • Total Loss: If a vehicle has been reported as a total loss, it is thought to have suffered severe damage. Knowing whether a vehicle has been declared a total loss helps you avoid a potentially unsafe vehicle.

 

  • Salvage History: A Vehicle that with a salvage history has had severe damage. Having access to this information helps consumers avoid purchasing a potentially unsafe vehicle.

 

At UsedCars.com we have partnered with CARFAX to offer a vehicle history report for all our premium listings. You can also search for  the history of a vehicle by visiting VehicleHistory.gov.

 

 

What to do before going to the dealer

Too many first time car buyers make the mistake of showing up to the dealership unprepared. They fail to do their research, and only have a vague idea of the type of car they intend to buy. Worse yet – instead of coming prepared with a list of questions and key features that they are looking for, their only plan of attack is to “look around.”

 

The reason this is such a big mistake is that the car buying process is, in reality, a business negotiation. And like all negotiations, both sides are capable of walking away happy – you just have to do your research and make sure you are prepared.

 

Preparing for your trip to the dealer

To help you in preparing for your first trip to the dealership, UsedCars.com has put together a list of steps that you should complete before you ever step foot on the dealer’s lot:

 

Step 1: Calculate what you can afford: By understanding how much you can afford before you head out to the dealership, you will have already begun to take control of the negotiation process. Keep in mind that this price range needs to be a static number, one that you are not willing to exceed.

 

            How to calculate what you can afford:

  • A good rule of thumb is that your car payments should not exceed 5-10% percent of your take home pay. Keep in mind that this includes all of your car payments, even if you already own other vehicles

 

Step 2: Narrow your search: Dealers always have an agenda, meaning they are trying to rid their inventory of the cars they have the most of in stock. So unless you have a clear idea of the type of vehicle you are looking for, the sales representative will do their best to steer you in the direction of the car that benefits them.

 

            What to consider when narrowing your search:

  • Number of passengers – Is this a family car, work car, or recreational vehicle
  • Style of vehicle – Are you looking for a sedan, pickup truck, SUV?
  • How important is fuel economy?
  • How much cargo do you need to haul?

 

Step 3: Visit the manufacturer’s website: If you are interested in a specific make or model, it is important for you to visit the manufacturer’s website before contacting a dealership. Manufacturers often offer rebates, incentives and discounts that have not been publicly announced. So by visiting their website, you can bring these items to the dealer’s attention

Other things to look for:

  • What is the MSRP: Every new vehicle lists a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP). This can be a great starting point when negotiating with the dealer
  • Rebate programs: Some manufacturers offer rebates for car buyers who belong to certain organizations
  • Mailing list: If the manufacturer offers a mailing list or news updates make sure you sign up. These resources often contain coupons or special offers.

 

Step 4: Shop for financing: Do not just automatically accept financing offered by the dealer. Many times, you can get a better deal on financing by shopping around for a loan. You can do this by contacting your local credit union or bank. Additionally, UsedCars.com has partnered with Auto Credit Express to provide you with competitive auto financing rates – regardless of your credit. Visit our Car Financing Center  to learn more

How do Reliability Ratings and Depreciation Rates Factor into the Used Car Buying Process?

Buying a used car is often the ideal choice for car buyers with limited budgets. When compared to buying new, not only are most used cars priced significantly lower, but these vehicles hold their value significantly better and will often require you to pay less in insurance and taxes.

 

Of course, buying a used car does you no good if you end up with something a little less than reliable. To help you avoid this, you may want to consider the following points:

 

The Reliability of the Vehicle

Admittedly, when you are buying a used car it can be next to impossible to guarantee reliability. Regardless of how thoroughly you inspect the vehicle or how many vehicle history reports you have access to, you can never be completely guaranteed that you are purchasing a car that is headache free.

 

This, however, does not mean that you are unable to make some pretty good guesses based on the history of the vehicle’s reliably. Both ConsumerReport.org and J.DPower.com  offer some quick insights into a specific model’s history of reliability. By using these tools to compare models, you will be able to avoid models that are notorious for letting people down.

 

The Vehicle Depreciation Rate

Did you know that the average new car loses between 40 to 60 percent of its value within the first three years of purchase? For example, the average depreciation on a $30,500 vehicle leaves somewhere around $17,500 after three years.

 

Now compare that to later model vehicles, which on average only lose about twenty percent of their value in years four, five and six. For example, if you waited three years to buy the $30,500 car we referenced above, you could probably purchase it for somewhere around $16,000. Then over the next three years, the vehicle would depreciate at around a 20% rate, meaning you would only lose about $3,500 – which is significantly less than the $17,500 loss in the example above.

 

However, it is important to keep in mind that not all vehicles depreciate at the same rate. In fact according to MSN, the 2004 BMW 3-Series held its value surprisingly well – only losing about 25% of its value after the initial 36 months. So when deciding on which used car to buy, make sure you research the vehicle’s history of depreciation. This will offer some insight on how much value you will lose down the road.

 

Don’t Get Taken by the Dealer

Worried that your next trip to the car dealership will result in the purchase of a car you cannot afford – or worse – one that you really did not want. The following list offers advice on navigating the car dealership.

 

Take your time and beware of the limited time offer:

Car sales representatives want you to buy that day. Statistics tell them that if they let you walk off the lot without making a purchase, you probably won’t be back. With this in mind, they try to entice you with “Can’t Be Beat,” “Buy Today” promotions.

 

  • The Tactic: To get you to buy the same day, the dealer will offer a myriad of confusing and hard to understand promotions. They will tell you that if you walk off their lot, the deal they are offering will expire.

 

  • How to avoid: It is important to take note that the sales representative is probably not lying. When they tell you a certain vehicle has limited stock or that a promotion is soon to expire, chances are they are telling the truth. However, what the dealer does not tell you is that when the promotion expires, another one will take its place.

 

Look at more than one car and avoid tunnel vision:

It’s called tunnel vision, and dealers love it. Their goal is to get you focused on one car and one car only. This limits your questions and concerns, meaning you are more willing to buy the same day.

 

  • The Tactic: When you walk on the lot, the car sales representative will immediately begin with a list of questions. They’ll ask seemingly innocent things such as, “What kind of car do you want,” and “how much can you afford?” Before you know it, you are standing in front of one vehicle, and they are forcing you to take it for a test drive.
  • How to avoid: Don’t rely on the dealer to be your guide. Instead, do a little homework before going to the lot. When the dealer does approach you, you will be in control and can direct them to the cars you are considering.

 

It is a car buyer’s market. So if you ever feel that the dealer is being too pushy, or you are uncomfortable with their sales approach, simply walk away.

Six Car Safety Musts

Motor vehicle related accidents account for almost 40,000 deaths each year, with an additional 270,000 persons needing hospitalization due to injury.1 What makes these statistics so alarming is that these injuries are occurring despite increased emphasis on vehicle safety standards. Even though modern technology has led to increased airbags and smarter accident avoidance systems, American car drivers are continuing to experience car accidents in record numbers.

 

These statistics, however, are not meant to scare. Instead, they are meant to reinforce the importance of car safety. As a driver, you are primarily responsible for your own personal car safety, and you should never take this safety for granted. With this in mind, the following offers a list of six car safety musts that every driver needs to know.

 

Tire Maintenance:

  1. Air pressure: Regularly check your tires’ air pressure to ensure that they consistently remain at the manufacturer’s recommended inflation rate. This number can be found in the glove box, in the owner’s manual, on the side of the tire, or near the door latch on the driver’s side.
  2. 2.    Tread and Wear: In addition to checking tire pressure you need to inspect the tires’ tread for wear. If you have your oil changed by a professional mechanic, ask them to include a tread check as part of the process. When inspecting your tires yourself, you will want to make sure that all the treads are wearing evenly. If some spots on a tire seem to be wearing faster than others, see your mechanic immediately.

 

Brake Safety:

  1. 3.    Warning signs: Most cars are engineered to let the driver know if the braking system requires maintenance. This includes warning sounds like screeching, whining or grinding. In addition to warning sounds, brake pedals that feel soft and dashboard warning lights are indications that your brakes need immediate attention.
  2. Brake Fluid: You will also need to periodically check your brake fluid. This can be done by inspecting the brake fluid reservoir located under the hood of your car. Keep in mind that the brake fluid system is a closed system. If the reservoir level is low, this is an indication that there may be a leak, and you should have your car serviced immediately.

Child Passenger Safety:

  1. Car Seats: Child safety seats save lives; however, when these seats are improperly installed, injuries and fatalities can occur. This is why it is important to note that the safest place for the car seat is in the middle of the backseat, and rear facing car seats should never be placed in the front of a vehicle.
  2. Latch System: If your vehicle was made after Sept. 1, 2002 it is required to have been manufactured with the Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH) system. This system uses anchors, allowing you to install the car seat without relying on the vehicle’s safety belt system. Consult your car’s owner manual for instructions on using the latch system.

Pros and Cons of Buying a Used Car

First, let’s begin by stating the obvious: Here at UsedCars.com, we believe in the power behind buying used. It’s right in our name, and it’s not something we try to hide. So, when we create a post titled “The Pros and Cons of Buying a Used Car,” it can be hard to keep our bias from shining through.

 

This does not mean you should not trust our opinion. As always, our main purpose is to help you find the car that is right for you – regardless of whether it is new or used. So when deciding on whether you are better off with a car straight out of the showroom or one that is a couple of model years older, let this list of pros and cons be your guide:

 

The advantages of purchasing a used car

Let’s begin with the positive: Buying a used car means you pay less. But not just on the overall price tag. Used cars cost less because of:

  • Depreciation Rate: On average, a new car will lose close to 50% of its value within the first three years. To put this in perspective, a car with a $50,000 price tag today will be sold for around $25,000 three years from now.

 

  • Insurance Rate: Do you want to pay more for insurance? Then buying new is the way to go. To avoid this, used car insurance  rates are typically lower than new car insurance rates.

 

  • The Options: Why buy a new car with a base package when you could enjoy a slightly older model that comes fully equipped but at a fraction of the price? Buying used means you can afford things like climate control, hands-free devices, Bluetooth, and USB docs.

 

The disadvantages of purchasing a used car

We cannot hide the fact that there are some negatives (but not many) associated with buying used:

 

  • Reliability and warranty: When you buy new, you never know what you are going to get. Complicating matters even more is the fact that many used cars offer little in the way of a warranty. You can avoid this concern by purchasing a Certified Pre-owned Car.

 

  • Interest Rates: Are you taking out a loan? Loans on a new car typically come with lower interest rates when compared to a used car.

 

The bottom line is that your dollar stretches further when buying used. However, with this trade-off come concerns about safety and reliability.

Picking the Right Used Car – What to Research

Even if you have a clear idea of the type of used car you are looking for, there are still likely to be thousands of vehicles on the market that match this criteria. And while an excess of options is always a good thing, for many car buyers this selection process can become overwhelming – leading to self-doubt and second guessing.

 

That’s why, UsedCars.com has put together a collection of resources designed to help you narrow the field down to a select few. Use the list below as you search for the used car that is right for you.


Model Reviews
: Reading model reviews from respected authorities can offer insights into a specific vehicle’s driving experience – even before you take it for a test drive.

 

Some resources to consider include:

 

Search For Your Next Green Car

Our Fuel Economy Search helps you find a car by minimum Air Pollution Score, Greenhouse Gas Score, and Fuel Economy desired.

www.usedcars.com/find-economy-vehicles.aspx

Reliability Ratings: Reliability ratings, especially for a used car, can be the car buyer’s most important tool. These reports, which take into account common repairs issues, help you compare reliability ratings across competitive models.

 

Two websites featuring vehicle reliability ratings include:

 

Fuel Efficiency Ratings: Skyrocketing gas prices means that fuel economy consideration has become an increasingly important part of the car buying process. Unfortunately, while fuel-economy figures are clearly listed on the sticker price tag for all new vehicles, not every used car offers this same information. Even in states where dealerships are required to list these figures on the windows of their used vehicles, past driving conditions can significantly alter the accuracy of these ratings

 

For this reason, it is always best to do a little research about the vehicle’s fuel economy before you step foot onto the dealership’s lot.

 

Three great sources for accomplishing this include:

The Best Used Car Deals for September

Shopping for a great deal on a used car? The good news is that the month of September is turning out to be full of unbeatable options. After a long winter season of low traffic and limited sales, dealers are looking to entice car buyers to their lots with a myriad of deals and great opportunities for savings.

 

At UsedCars.com, we always encourage you to visit our Best Used Car Deals Pagewhere we offer access to an extensive inventory of used cars, trucks and SUVs listed below Kelley Blue Book value. Of course, those are not the only great deals to be had on used cars this September. Other cars you may want to consider include:

 

2011 Subaru Forester (27 mpg/highway)

KBB Price:  $19,842*

Since its introduction to the car buying world in 1998, the Subaru Forester has remained one of the most popular cars on the roadways – and for good reason: With its all-wheel-drive-system and car-based frame, the Forester treats drivers to the enticing combination of SUV-like durability and sedan-like drivability. Add in its better than average fuel economy and roomy backseat, and it is easy to understand why this SUV is such a big hit among the family minded car buyer. For car buyers looking for a practical vehicle that they can take on the occasional hiking trip, the Forester is hard to overlook.

 

Here is what some of the critics have to say about the 2011 Subaru Forester

  • Consumer Reports

2011 Test score: 87/100

  • JD Power and Associates

2011Predicted reliability score: 3.5/5

  • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

2011  Overall crash rating: 4/5

 

2011 Honda Fit (35 mpg/highway)

KBB Price:  $15,418*

Don’t let the Honda Fit’s small appearance fool you into thinking that this peppy little five-door hatchback has a cramped interior space. On the contrary, the Fit continually impresses critics with a roomy interior, comparable to many of the larger and less fuel efficient compacts on the market. Even better, with gas prices that don’t appear to be going down any time soon, the Fit’s low asking price and impressive fuel economy combine to make it one of the best used car deals in September.

 

Here is what some of the critics have to say about the 2011 Honda Fit

  • Consumer Reports

Test score: 76/100

  • JD Power and Associates Predicted reliability score: 4.5/5
  • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Rollover crash rating: 4/5

 

2010 Honda Fit (42 mpg/highway)

KBB Price:  $16,450*

The Volkswagen Golf should not only be considered one of the best used car deals in September 2013, it should be considered one of the most economically priced and reliable vehicles of all time. Since the 1970s, the Golf has been a consistent choice among budget-minded car buyers searching for a family car that will match their versatile needs. Even though many things about this car have changed over the years, even its name, one thing has remained a constant: The Golf is a reliably made car that offers the rare combination of practicality, style and affordability.

 

Here is what some of the critics have to say about the Volkswagen Golf

  • Consumer Reports

2011 Test score: 88/100

  • JD Power and Associates

2011 Predicted reliability score: 3/5

  • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

2010 Average overall crash rating: 4.4/5

 

2010 Mazda3 (33 mpg/highway)

KBB Price:  $12,926*

Why is the Mazda3 considered to be one of the best deals this September? This expertly styled little car walks a fine line of economy and driving performance. Yes, the Mazada3 was built to offer affordability, but it does so without sacrificing performance.  With its refined engine and clever design styling, the Mazda3 has continually received high praise from both critics and car buyers.

 

Here is what some of the critics have to say about the 2011 Mazda3

  • Consumer Reports

Test score: 83/100

  • JD Power and Associates

Predicted reliability score: 3/5

  • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Overall crash rating: 4/5

 

 

*The KBB price listed here was quoted as of 9/1/2013 – and it is reflective of the suggested retail price of a similar vehicle in excellent condition with 30,000 miles. 

The Dos and Don’ts of Buying a Used Car

The used car buying process is a mind field full of potential mistakes – each of which is capable of increasing the overall price tag or decreasing your chances of finding a reliable used car. The following list of dos and don’ts is your map to avoiding some of the most common car buying mistakes.  Learn these tips and improve your chances of walking away with a great deal.

 

  • Do look for a later model vehicle: Used cars that are only two or three years old offer the some of the best deals on the market. Not only are these vehicles priced several thousand dollars lower than their new vehicle counterparts, but they often come complete with all the modern options and safety features. 
  • Don’t forget about Certified Pre-Owned Vehicles: A good deal on a Certified Pre-Owned car can be hard to turn down. Most of these vehicles have undergone a rigorous inspection, and many come with a fairly comprehensive warranty plan.  At UsedCars.com we offer a side-by-side comparison tool for comparing the advantages of each program.
  • Do Try to Get Financing Somewhere Else: While seeking a loan through the dealer is convenient, it can often end up costing you hundreds of dollars. So before you start shopping for a used car, you should start shopping for a used car loan from your local bank or credit union.
  • Don’t Forget to Review Your Credit Score: Believe it or not, your credit score may be full of inaccuracies, which can negatively affect your credit rating and drive up your interest payments. To avoid this, you should request and review a copy of your credit report six months to a year before you begin the used car buying process. You can request copies by visiting AnnualCreditReport.com  or visiting the UsedCars.com Credit Report Information Page.
  • Do Take an Extended Test Drive: Ask the dealer if you can take the car for an extended test drive. Some dealers, especially those who are motivated to sell, will even let you take the car overnight. Taking the car for an extended test drive will offer you the chance to explore how the car handles under real-world driving conditions.
  • Don’t Skip the Inspection: Ask to have the vehicle inspected by a certified mechanic. While most vehicle inspections cost in the neighborhood of $125, these invaluable services can spot potential trouble spots and may even help you avoid a lemon.

Best Deals on Cars for Labor Day

Historically, Labor Day weekend is when car dealers promote huge sales and discounts on in-stock cars, SUVs and trucks. But, many times these deals don’t live up to all they promise. During holidays, dealers often post increased prices and have a limited inventory for you to choose from.

 

So when you start shopping for the best Labor Day used cars for sale, start with UsedCars.com. We can help you find fuel-efficient, reliable and safe vehicles that will make you celebrate a little more this holiday weekend.

 

Check out some of the Labor Day used car deals that we are featuring this weekend. Don’t see what you’re looking for? No worries, we have an enormous inventory of used trucks, SUVs and cars for you to browse. Feel free to shop our year-round best used car deals to find your next vehicle.

 

2011 Ford Escape (28 mpg/highway)ford-escape-labor-day-deal

KBB Price:  $22,284*

What makes the 2011 Ford Escape one of our choices for the best LaborDay used car deals? The Ford Escape is a compact SUV with a roomy interior and innovative tech features including voice control using your cell phone, a navigation system, and the ability to retrieve weather, traffic sports scores and more through the SYNC system. What the Ford Escape lacks in functionality it makes up for in terms of styling. In an overcrowded market of cookie-cutter crossovers, the Ford Escape has managed to distinguish itself making it one of our picks for Labor Day used car deals.

 

Here is what some of the critics have to say about the Ford Escape:

  • Consumer Reports

2013 Test score: 75/100

  • JD Power and Associates

Predicted reliability score: 3/5

  • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
    Overall rating: 3/5

 

2012 Kia Optima (39 mpg/highway)

KBB Price:  $27,612*kia-labor-day-deal

The Kia Optima provides a good balance for most drivers and offers an attractive and spacious package. Some of the standard tech features on this model include Bluetooth and a USB iPod jack. The powerful and fuel-efficient engine is another reason this model is popular among drivers. The value you get with a Kia Optima is one of the main reasons it makes our list of the best labor day used car deals.

 

Read what some of the critics had to say about the Kia Optima:

  • Consumer Reports

2011 Test score: 81/100

  • JD Power and Associates

Predicted reliability score: 3/5

  • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Overall rating: 5/5

 

2010 Toyota Sequoia (19 mpg/highway)

KBB Price:  $42,679*toyota-best-deal

With a comfortable interior, solid reliability scores and comfortable handling, the Toyota Sequoia is a great choice for moving large loads. With a redesign in 2008, the Toyota Sequoia was improved through the addition of leg room, a stronger performance and flexibility. With an optional 381-horsepower 5.7-liter V8, the Sequoia is one of the fastest full-size SUVs on the market. This engine makes it possible for this SUV to tow up to 9,100 lbs.

 

Learn what some of the critics have to say about the Toyota Sequoia:

  • Consumer Reports

2013 Test score: 66/100

  • JD Power and Associates

Predicted reliability score: 3.5/5

  • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
    2011 rollover crash rating: 4/5

*The KBB price listed here was quoted as of 3/20/2013 – and it is reflective of the suggested retail price of a similar vehicle in excellent condition with less than 50,000 miles.

 

The Best Small Car Deals

Whether you’re shopping for your first car or your fifth car, your needs are the same. You want to find a car, truck or SUV that offers the perfect balance in quality and price. However, when you are shopping for the best small car deals, it’s important to understand your needs are going to be much different than someone shopping for a full-size SUV.

 

When it comes to the best deals on small cars it’s important for you to find a model that offers high safety ratings, fuel-efficiency, and reliability along with a smaller price tag. Luckily, UsedCars.com can help you in your quest to find the best small car deals. We know how easy it is to get lost in our huge inventory of used cars, so we tried to make things a little easier by pulling some of our top choices for the best small car deals.

 

Browse our top choices below, or shop our entire inventory of best used car deals to find the perfect car to start your next road trip, whether it is to college or your child’s baseball game.

 

2012 Honda Civic (39 mpg/highway)

KBB Price:  $21,701*

In 2012, the Honda Civic was fully redesigned. Boasting 39 mpg/highway, the Honda Civic is a standout model for drivers looking for great fuel economy. The model also offers more room on the interior of the car as well as improved tech features. While there are many compact cars on the market to choose from, the upgraded features of 2012 make the Honda Civic one of our best small car deals.

 

Read what some of the critics have to say about the 2012 Honda Civic:

  • Consumer Reports

Test score: 61/100

  • JD Power and Associates

Predicted reliability score: 4/5

 

2010 Toyota Corolla (34 mpg/highway)

KBB Price:  $15,336*

What this compact car lacks in style it makes up for in strong fuel economy and high reliability and safety scores. If you’re searching for a compact car with comfortable seating and a reasonable amount of cargo space, the Toyota Corolla is one of the best choices. Standard safety features include electronic stability control, traction control, anti-lock brakes, electronic brake-force distribution and brake assist. The high reliability scores only further put the Toyota Corolla on our list for the best small car deals.

 

Learn what some of the critics have to say about this model:

  • Consumer Reports

2009 Test score: 71/100

  • JD Power and Associates

Predicted reliability score: 4.5/5

  • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
    2011 rollover crash rating: 4/5

2012 Chevrolet Cruze (38 mpg/highway)

KBB Price:  $20,789*

With an upscale interior and efficient turbo-charged engine, the Chevrolet Cruze is the perfect combination of style and function. With high fuel economy, secure handling and top safety scores, this compact car is a great choice for every day driving. Plus, the large trunk makes it practical for road trips and storage.

 

Learn what some of the critics have to say about this Chevrolet model:

  • Consumer Reports

2013 Test score: 72/100

  • JD Power and Associates

Predicted reliability score: 2.5/5

  • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
    Overall rating: 5/5

*The KBB price listed here was quoted as of 3/20/2013 – and it is reflective of the suggested retail price of a similar vehicle in excellent condition with less than 50,000 miles.

Your Guide to Kelley Blue Book Pricing

Way back in the 1920s a young car salesman from California, Les Kelley, began compiling a list of local area car prices in an effort to gain a better understanding of the value of each vehicle he was selling. From these humbling beginning, the Kelley Blue Book pricing system was born, as soon banks and dealers began to turn to Kelley’s listing as a tool for establishing market value.

 

What once was one man’s simple listing has turned into a nationally recognized and respected source – as the Kelley Blue Book pricing system has become a way for buyers and sellers, private parties and dealers, and experts and novices to all share common ground during the negotiation process.

 

When in need of a resource that offers an unbiased starting point for negotiations, the Kelley Blue Book pricing guide offers insights on:

 

  • New Car Value
  • Used Car Value
  • Trade in Value

 

Determining New Car Value with Kelley Blue Book Pricing

Too many car buyers make the mistake of thinking that there is little room for negotiating the price of a new car. What they wind up doing is walking directly into the dealership -without conducting any prior research – and settle for the listed sticker price. This is a mistake that can end up costing you greatly. For instance, even though all new vehicles must display the Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP), this number can lull you into a false sense of security, causing you to ignore other factors that can impact the car’s value.

 

The Kelley Blue Book pricing guide offers insight beyond MSRP, detailing four areas that are  key parts of the negotiation process:

 

  • Manufacturer’s suggested retail price: -This is the price suggested by the manufacturer. Please remember that this price is just a guide. In fact, the MSRP is often inflated, meaning you should expect to pay less than this, certainly never more.

 

  • Dealer invoice: Ever wonder, “How much did it cost the dealer to buy this vehicle?” The dealer invoice price can offer some insight into the vehicle’s wholesale price. Keep in mind, this number should be used as a starting point for negotiations. Because dealers want to turn some profit, you should expect to pay more than this.

 

  • New car blue book value: This is the average selling price of the vehicle, taken from actual sales of the same vehicle throughout the country. Remember that this number can fluctuate depending on the area you live. For instance, a car in California is going to be priced differently than a car in Ohio.

 

  • Optional-equipment price: There is a definitive difference between a car with no extras and a car with all the extras included. Kelley Blue Book pricing takes this into account when determining the value of a vehicle.

 

Kelley Blue Book Pricing and Used Car Value:

Just like the price of a new car is different than the price of a used car, a car purchased from a dealer will be priced differently than a car purchased from a private party. The good news is that the Kelley Blue Book pricing guide takes all of this into consideration:

 

  • Used car retail value: The retail value serves as a starting point for negotiations between the dealer and car buyer. This value includes expenses like advertising, sales commission and operating costs. KBB also assumes the dealer spent money reconditioning the car, repairing or replacing worn items like brake and tires.

 

  • Private party value:  Private party value is what you could expect to pay for a car if you purchased it from an independent seller. This value is usually lower than the retail price because it assumes the car is being sold “As Is.”

 

  • Trade-in-value: Trade-in Value is what you could expect to receive if you traded the vehicle into the dealership. Because the dealer will incur additional expenses, such as safety inspections, reconditioning, marketing and reselling, this value is lower than what you would receive if you sold it privately.

 

The Difference between Retail Price and Selling Price

Keep in mind that Kelley Blue Book pricing should only be used as a rough guide. In fact dealers will often use it as a negation tool, citing the fact that their vehicles are actually priced lower than the Kelley Blue Book listed price. Unfortunately, this tactic can be misleading. Most used cars have some “wear and tear,” but many dealers will not account for this when calculating the KBB estimated price. This in turn tends to inflate the value.

The Nissan Frontier Review

Since being introduced to the American market in 1999, the Nissan Frontier has been a hit among consumers looking for a durable, yet affordably priced compact truck. With a body size that is slightly larger than most compact trucks on the market, the Frontier offers the appeal of versatility. Yes, this may be a compact truck, but it has just enough heavy-duty power to get the job done.

Nissan Frontier

( 2006 – 2014 )
Read more about pricing and specs
for the Nissan Frontier

View Used Car Listings

Nissan was the first automaker to sell a compact pickup truck in the U.S. So, if you are looking for a truck that has long history of dependability and durability, you will be hard-pressed to find a better alternative than the Frontier. With several different models and continuous upgrades, the Nissan Frontier was ideal for a broad range of consumers.

 

Advantages of the Nissan Frontier

The impressive Nissan Frontier features rugged capabilities and is easy to drive. Anyone looking for the functionality of a full-size pickup truck, with a more manageable body will benefit from this truck model. Some of the unique advantages of the Nissan Frontier include:

 

  • The functionality of a pickup with enhanced maneuverability: This Nissan model offers a more powerful engine with a midsize truck feel, making it practical for everyday use.

 

  • Extended cab options: With extended-cab and crew-cab body styles, the Nissan Frontier is a flexible option for a broad range of consumers.

 

  • Safety features that will keep you protected: With standard features such as airbags, anti-lock brakes, traction control and stability control, this vehicle offers superior safety on the road.

 

Nissan Frontier Redesigns

The current-generation Nissan Frontier model debuted in 2005 and some of the notable redesigns including bigger dimensions, new styling inside and out as well as a stronger engine. However, you may be interested to learn more about some of the used Nissan Frontier models. The redesigns in these previous models included:

 

2005 – The second generation model offered a heavier frame, more powerful engine and larger body size. Truck buyers were also offered versatility, with the option to choose from three bed lengths and three cab sizes.

 

2001 – Getting a face-lift gave the Nissan Frontier a much more aggressive look. The tailgate was more sculpted than any other truck of that time. This year also brought a supercharged version of the 3.3-liter V6. The power-operated sunroof and longer truck bed made this model successful.

 

1999 – Nissan introduced the Frontier in 1999, adding to their already strong legacy of producing quality made compact trucks. This first-generation model did not possess nearly as much muscle as future models, but it was still a quality midsize choice among a sea of full-size trucks.

 

What the Critics Say about Nissan Frontier

If you are considering a used Nissan Frontier for your next vehicle, it might benefit you to learn a little more about what critics say about this model.

 

The following reviews are for the 2011 model year.

Test score: 67/100

Predicted reliability score: 3/5

Rollover crash rating: 3/5

Nissan 350Z Review

What the 350Z offers is the flair and thrill of a sports car, but at an affordable price.  Joining a lineup mainly composed of practically designed sedans, the 350Z was created to add a little bit of fun and flair to the Nissan brand. With its affordable price, compact design and powerful engine, this snazzy little sports car has quickly become a popular buy.

Nissan 350z

( 2003 – 2009 )
Read more about pricing and specs
for the Nissan 350z

View Used Car Listings

This fifth generation of “Z” sports cars was even deemed the perfect sports car for the everyman. While the 350Z was only produced from 2003-2008, due to its popularity, there are a number of great deals on this vehicle in the used car market.

 

Advantages of the Used Nissan 350Z

At its debut, the Nissan 350Z brought back the company’s spirit of fun and performance.  In a sea of unattainable sports cars, there were several unique aspects that made the 350Z one-of-a-kind. The Nissan 350Z brought along the following features:

 

  • Affordable price with the thrill of a sports car: The compact dimensions and muscular engine came at a price tag many buyers could actually afford.

 

  • The need for speed: Used Nissan 350Z models feature a V6 that produced 287-hp and 274 lb.-ft. of torque

 

  • The power of a sports car: The Nissan 350Z has all its power sent to the rear wheels through either a six-speed manual or five-speed automatic transmission.

Used Nissan 350Z Model Years

After halting production of their Z-series line of cars for a number of years, Nissan made a major impact when it reintroduced the 350Z in 2003. This two-passenger sports car impressed car buyers with its sleek design, superior driving performance and affordable price. This model went through several years of upgrades until it was replaced by the 370Z in 2009.

 

CPO Nissan 350Z Redesigns

The Nissan 350Z coupe went several years without any major changes or upgrades. However, in 2005 the model did introduce a 35th anniversary edition. This specific model produced 300-hp and came in several new colors. Some of the other notable changes to the Nissan 350Z included:

 

2007 – Most notably in ’07, the Nissan 350Z offered an updated V6 with a potent 306-hp. This year also introduced the coupe-only Nismo 350Z. This model included a variety of performance-enhancing upgrades while dropping some of the luxuries.

To find out more about the 2007 Nissan 350Z check out our Research section.

 

2006 – Keeping the anniversary edition’s 300-hp V6, this year also introduced some mild style changes, speed-sensitive steering, larger breaks, a higher quality interior, and more standard features.

To find out more about the 2006 Nissan 350Z check out our Research section.

 

2005 – The release of the 35th anniversary edition in 2005 allowed consumers to purchase a Nissan 350Z coupe in three limited edition colors: Ultra Yellow, Super Black and Silverstone.

To find out more about the 2005 Nissan 350Z check out our Research section.

 

What the Critics Say about Nissan 350Z 

Having trouble deciding if a used Nissan 350Z is right for you? Find out what some of the critics had to say about this coupe model:

 

2011 Test score: 86/100

2008 Predicted reliability score: 3/5

2008 Average overall crash rating: 4.5/5

Honda Element Review

Few SUVs can compare to the Honda Element in terms of versatile demographic appeal. While this four-passenger compact SUV, with it fun and funky exterior, was originally geared toward young professionals, Honda soon discovered the Element appealed to more than just this limited audience. The SUV’s high cabin and revolutionary clamshell styled rear doors made it a surprise hit among more mature car buyers in need of an easy access SUV with the cargo space and legroom to match their daily driving needs.

Honda Element

( 2003 – 2011 )
Read more about pricing and specs
for the Honda Element

View Used Car Listings

While Honda discontinued production on the Element in 2011, the popularity of this SUV continues to live on in the used car market – a fact that is probably best attributed to its versatile design. From the home improvement warrior to the recreational hiker, the Element offers the functionality to meet a range of needs, lifestyles and tastes.

 

Advantages of the Element

To say the Honda Element has a unique design may be an understatement. With its clamshell doors and unique cube-like exterior, this SUV has a style all of its own. But don’t think this compact little crossover is all flash with no real value. Featuring design and engineering that was ahead of its time, the Element boasts a number of features that make it both practical and fun to drive.

 

  • Multifunctional: From hauling sports equipment and groceries to carrying a load of bricks, there is seemingly no limit to the Element’s multi-purpose design.
  • Easy Access: Unlike a conventional four-door design, the SUV features access-style rear doors that pivot 90 degrees – the result is an extra-large opening for loading passengers or bulky cargo.
  • Innovative Seating: Not only do the rear seats provide enough legroom for the growing family, but remove the seats and you are greeted with 75 feet of cubic cargo space.

Used Honda Element Model Years

Bursting on the scene in 2003, the Element was only manufactured for nine years. However, during that time, this crossover managed to create enough buzz to allow it to carry on as a popular choice on the used car market:

 

2003 – When the Honda Element was first introduced to the car buying world in 2003, consumers were impressed by its versatility. With sedan-like maneuverability and a rugged interior and exterior, this compact SUV is suitable for both on-road and off-road driving. A large interior space and re-configurable seating options make this SUV a good choice for car buyers who need a little extra hauling room.

 

What the Critics Have to Say about the Honda Element

Offering responsive steering, a smooth ride, and an innovative design, the Element certainly was able to capture the attention of critics. Take a look at what some of the critics had to say.

 

The following reviews are for the 2011 model year.

  • Consumer Reports

Test score: 58/100

  • JD Power and Associates

Predicted reliability score: 4.5/5

  • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration     

Rollover crash rating: 3/5

 

Used CR-V

Drivability and practicality, these are the attributes to which the Honda CR-V stakes its reputation. Originally designed as an alternative to the less practical full-sized SUVs that crowded the marketplace in the 90s, the CR-V continues to impress car buyers with its sedan-like maneuverability. Throw in extra legroom and plenty of room for hauling cargo, and this compact SUV becomes one of the most family friendly options anywhere.

 

When searching for a vehicle that offers the room of an SUV combined with the maneuverability and practicality of a sedan, the CR-V is certainly worthy of a closer. Better yet, because it is one of the best-selling SUVs of all time, there are a ton of options available on the used car market. If you are in search of a stylish and reliable car, perfectly built to meet the needs of your on-the-go family, you will definitely want to take this mighty little Honda for a test drive.

 

Advantages of the CR-V

With its stylish exterior, fuel efficient engine and sedan-like drivability, the CR-V offers the kind of practicality built for the family with a demanding schedule. While other SUVs are more powerful or more off-road capable, few can compete in terms of sheer overall driving experience.

 

  • On-road drivability: The Honda CR-V built its reputation by delivering sedan-like drivability – something it continues to offer to this day. So while this SUV may not offer true off-road capability, few other SUVs can compete in terms of on road driving enjoyment.
  • Practical family interior: Featuring comfortable seating, plenty of storage, and quiet performance, not many other SUVs are capable of delivering a more comfortable driving experience.
  • Cargo space: For hauling sports equipment, groceries or whatever else your daily life demands, the CR-V has the space to get the job done.

 

Used Honda CR-V Model Years

Until the arrival of the CR-V in the late 1990s, most SUVs were bulky, hard to navigate, and less than fuel efficient. This all changed when Honda introduced this compact SUV in 1997 – a revolutionary new type of car that offered the practical drivability of a sedan with the design and interior space of a SUV.

 

2012 – A redesign in 2012 focused on making the CR-V even more comfortable and roomy. more >>

 

2007 – The CR-V received a high-end upgrade in 2007. The SUV now offered alloy wheels, rear privacy glass, keyless entry, leather upholstery, satellite radio, and a USB audio jack. more >>

 

2002 – Significant upgrades in 2002 focused on improving safety, adding power, and creating interior space.  Convenient features, such as full power accessories, air-conditioning and CD player, were offered standard. more >>

 

1997 – Honda introduced the CR-V in 1997 as a roomier alternative to the other compact SUVs on the road. more >>

 

What the Critics Have to Say about Honda CR-V 

Since its introduction in 1997, the CR-V has continually impressed critics with its high reliability scores and superior crash rating:

 

The following reviews are for the 2011 model year.

  • Consumer Reports

Test score: 76/100

  • JD Power and Associates

Predicted reliability score: 4.5/5

  • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Overall crash rating: 4/5

 

Similar Used Cars

The CR-V is not the only practically styled, fuel efficient SUV on the market. Other vehicles you may find interesting include.

Used Honda Odyssey

In recent history, the Honda Odyssey has dominated the minivan market. Car shoppers have been attracted to the Odyssey’s best-in-class interior space and unique seating design.  When these factors are combined with Honda’s reputation for reliability, it is easy to understand why the Odyssey has become the go-to-vehicle of choice of the growing family

 

When looking for a minivan that was built to meet the needs of your family, do not forget to give the Odyssey a closer look. Year after year this car continues to win awards for safety, reliability and innovative seating design – features that have made this one of the best-selling minivans on today’s market.

 

Advantages of the Odyssey

Safety, reliability and comfort – these are probably the most important features a minivan can offer. And it just so happens, these are all areas where the Odyssey excels, which is probably one of the reasons it ranks as one of the most popular minivans on today’s roadways.

 

  • Innovative seating – With a third row of seats that folds flat into the floor, the Honda Odyssey can quickly go from a seven passenger transporter to spacious cargo hauler.
  • Reliability – Year after year the Odyssey has ranked as one the most reliable minivans on the market.
  • Safety – When shopping for a family car, safety ranks at the top of every buyer’s mind, which is something you will never have to worry about with the Odyssey.

For more about the Honda Odyssey click here

Used Honda Odyssey Model Years

Since making its debut back in 1995, the Odyssey has been a car that has been praised for offering an innovative design. And even though the minivan has ranked as one the most popular vehicles over its lifespan, it has never stopped striving for even more innovation – winning continued praise for its driving performance and interior comfort features.

 

2011 – A sleeker design, roomier interior and increased fuel economy combined to make this one of the most popular minivans ever produced.

 

2005 – The third generation Odyssey was given a host of comfort features, helping add to the minivan’s high-end appeal.

 

1999 – Built using Honda’s revolutionary new platform, the roomy second generation Odyssey was the largest Honda ever built.

 

1995 – This first generation Odyssey impressed car buyers with a few innovative features. Four conventional swing-open doors with roll-down windows and a fold-flat third-row seat combined to give this Minivan a unique appeal.

 

What the Critics Have to Say about the Honda Odyssey 

Continually ranked as one of the best performing, most reliable and safest minivans on the market, the Odyssey has won any number of awards throughout the years. Most notably, critics have recognized the minivan for its advanced safety features and impressive record of reliability.

 

The following reviews are for the 2011 model year.

  • Consumer Reports

Test score: 83/100

  • JD Power and Associates

Predicted reliability score: 4.5/5

  • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Overall crash rating: 5/5

Civic

It is not hard to understand why the Honda Civic has been one of the best-selling compact cars ever sold. Beginning back in the 70s when the compact first wowed car buyers with its performance and fuel economy, the Civic built its reputation by offering new and innovative designs. It has been this commitment to continually push the industry forward and create a higher standard to which all other compacts are compared that has allowed the Civic to remain a leader for the past 40 years.

 

Few compact cars can compare to the Civic in terms of room, fuel efficiency and reliability. Due to this reputation for excellence, this stylish little compact holds the title of being one of the best-selling vehicles on both the new and used car market.

 

Advantages of the Civic

Fuel efficient, affordable, and reliable – these are some of the adjectives that the Civic is most well-known for. But to stop there would do this fun-to-drive hatchback a grave injustice. With its edgy styling and engaging performance, this little – but mighty – Honda delivers much more than you would expect from a hatchback.

 

  • Fuel Efficiency – The first Civics were noted for their fuel efficiency, and even now more than 40 years after they first rolled off the assembly line, this is something the Civic is still well-known for.
  • Surprisingly Roomy – Roomy and compact don’t get used together very often, but this is a feat that the little Honda Civic has been able to master.
  • Performance – No matter what generation of Civic you are driving, this hatchback has long been known for its ability to create a fun driving experience.

More >>

Used Honda Civic Model Years

Before the Civic, Honda almost exclusively built motorcycles. However, this all changed in 1973 after the first Civic rolled off their assembly line – forever exciting car buyers with its ability to deliver superior fuel efficiency and performance  all wrapped up in a tiny little package. And now, even 40 years after it was first introduced, the Civic continues to use that same recipe for success.

 

2013 – Another radical redesign in 2013 has given the Civic some much needed high-end appeal.  The hatchback’s features now include Bluetooth phone and audio, rear-view camera, and Pandora radio functionality.

more about the 2013 Civic>>

2006 – Honda radically redesigned the Civic in 2006, giving it a more sophisticated, futuristic look. Major stylistic updates were made to both the interior and exterior.  Now, with its many high-end options, the Civic could compete with just about any car.

more about the 2006 Civic>>

2001 – Changes made to the suspension and engine during this seventh generation gave the Honda a more dynamic driving experience.

 more about the 2001 Civic>>

1995 – A restyling in 1995 led to a more aggressive look and increased interior space. These larger Civics were now available as either a coupe, hatchback or sedan.

 more about the 1995 Civic>>

1992 – This update included a redesign that focused on making the Civic more aerodynamic, which contributed to even better fuel efficiency.

 more about the 1992 Civic>>

1988 – The fourth generation Civic again saw changes made to its exterior, receiving a longer body, larger glass windshield and lower hood.

 more about the 1988 Civic>>

1984 – A major redesign gave the Civic increased size and power. With its new 76-horsepower engine, this civic was able to compete with the larger cars on the market.

more about the 1984 Civic>>

1980 – Honda redesigned the Civic in 1980 to offer a sleeker new exterior. The car was now available as a hatchback, four-door sedan or wagon.

more about the 1980 Civic>>

1973 – With its innovative design style, the Honda Civic had an immediate effect on the car market. Car buyers noted that even though the Civic was compact in size, its interior space was similar to that of many full-size sedans.

 more about the 1973 Civic>>

What the Critics Have to Say about the Honda Civic

Over its long history, the Honda Civic has received its fair share of criticism and praise. But through it all, the compact has continued to impress with an impeccable record of reliability and safety.

 

The following reviews are for the 2011 model year.

 

  • JD Power and Associates

Predicted reliability score: 3/5

  • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Overall crash rating: 4.5/5

Accord

The Honda Accord has built its reputation by offering car buyers exactly what they are looking for in a family sedan: Comfort, reliability, drivability and safety. It’s for this reason that this family car continues to be one of the most respected and well-known cars on the American roadways.  Even though this may not be the most sophisticated or dynamic car on the market, what this sedan does offer is a quality, well-engineered ride, all wrapped up in a stylish design.

 

Backed by a strong history of reliability, the Accord is both roomy and easy-to-drive. Due to this reputation for providing the complete driving experience, the Honda Accord continues to remain a popular choice, either new or used.

 

Advantages of the Accord

Other cars may be flashier, or roomier, or faster – but the Accord never set out to excel in anyone of these areas. Instead, this family sedan has built its reputation by delivering one of the most memorable family-friendly driving experiences on the market.

 

  • Family Friendly – Roomy, comfortable and safe, this is what the family-minded car buyer wants, and that is exactly where the Accord excels.
  • Fun Driving Experience – While this may not be the fastest sedan on the market, responsive driving mechanics and a surprisingly powerful engine make the Accord fun to drive.
  • Roomy Interior – With seating up to five and ample trunk space, the Accord is a great fit for today’s small family.

 

 Used Honda Accord Model Years

Since its inception, the Accord has been engineered with a singular vision: To enhance the family driving experience. And now, over three decades later, this is an area where the Accord continues to excel.

 

2008 – After this complete redesign in 2008, the Accord was now bigger, faster and roomier. Even with its bigger body size, the sedan still impressed critics with its superior fuel economy.

 

2003 – A revamped engine, improved steering, and re-engineered suspension attributed to a smoother, more dynamic driving experience.

 

1998 – While the overall size of the sixth generation Accord was larger, the car was restyled to offer a slimmer look.

 

1994 – The theme of this fifth generation remodel revolved around increased safety. Dual front airbags and early compliance with future safety standards made this one of the safest cars on the market.

 

1990 – After a major renovation during this fourth generation, the Accord became the best-selling car for three straight years.

 

1986 – After a radical redesign in 1986, the Accord now boasted a sleeker look, more powerful engine and roomier interior.

 

1981 – The Accord was restyled in its second generation to offer a roomier, more refined interior. With the option of purchasing either a hatchback or sedan, car buyers were impressed by the Accords upscale look and economical starting price.

 

1976 – In response to the public’s demand for a well-built, well-designed fuel efficient car, Honda launched the Accord in 1976.

 

What the Critics Have to Say about the Honda Accord

Having received high scores in both crash rating and reliability, there seems little doubt that the Honda Accord is a great option for the used car buyer looking for a car they know they can count on for years to come.

 

The following reviews are for the 2011 model year.

 

  • Consumer Reports

Test score: 80/100

  • JD Power and Associates

Predicted reliability score: 5/5

  • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Overall crash rating: 4.5/5