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4 Basic Used Car Shopping Tips

By: StaffPublished September 24, 2021

The following is a list of a few simple used car shopping tips that everyone should know before shopping for a pre-owned car.

There is little doubt that buying a used car can offer some of the greatest value. When compared to buying new, not only is the initial sticker price lower, but used cars tend to depreciate at a much slower rate, while most new cars typically lose around 40% of their value within the first three years.

By understanding just a few of these used car shopping tips you can quickly determine if the dealer or private party seller is asking too much:

Shop around – compare pricing When determining if the asking price on a used car is fair, it is important to shop around. Before settling on your next used car, it will benefit you to visit multiple dealerships, both in person and online. Browse through our listings available in your area to get a clear idea of what dealers are asking for the car that you are interested in. This will help you in that first step to understanding what’s out there so you don’t feel pressured into buying the first used car you looked at.

Check the Kelley Blue Book estimated value Car buying tools such as Kelley Blue Book can provide you with all the information you need to negotiate a fair price on your next used car. For years, KBB.com has helped buyers and sellers alike determine value based on a car’s condition and mileage. Every one of our listings provides you with a VIN number so that you can quickly pull a report from Kelley Blue Book. Other sites such as VehicleHistory.Gov can also provide you with some insight into the vehicle’s crash and repair history. By having a full understanding of the estimated value of the vehicle you are looking to purchase you will be able to negotiate your final cost on your used car with more confidence. 

Check the maintenance history on the vehicle How much care has gone into the used car you are interested in? Has the oil been changed every 3,000 miles and the tires rotated regularly? Ask the dealer or seller for past maintenance records. Everyone one of our listings provides you with a CarFax report and our premium listings will even provide it for free. Look through the report thoroughly while focusing on how many owners, if the vehicle has been in an accident, and how often the vehicle has been serviced.

Understand who the previous owner was, Of course, you don’t want to go knocking on some stranger’s door or ask the seller personal questions, but understanding what the car was used for will help you not only during the purchase but after you have purchased the used car. If the vehicle has been used for business travel, rental services or off-road recreation, its reliability and expected life span can be affected negatively. A car that has been used for off-road will have some damage on the axels, a teenager as a previous owner will be damaging to the transmission, and typically a senior citizen or someone using the car for short drives (such as a commuter) will do damage to the exhaust. Once you have a basic understanding of how the car was used, you will know what to look at before purchasing, and what to expect in repairs after you purchase (what type of warranty coverage you will need).

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