Factors To Consider When Buying A Used Car
Fuel economy: Check our ratings at CR.org/carsatoz to see if the used model you like fares well against others in its class.
Reliability score: This indicates how a vehicles overall problem rate compares with other models from the same year, based on survey responses from CR members about their cars.
Satisfaction score: CR members tell us each year whether theyd buy their same car again if given the chance. We calculate a score for each model based on those survey responses.
Safety systems: FCW and AEB were available on older models but were not often standard. So before you buy, make sure your used-car choice has these lifesaving safety features.
How We Help You Buy Used Cars With Confidence
Used cars can often offer better value for money than new ones, which can lose 40% of their value in their first 2 years due todepreciation. But how do you know if the price is too good to be true?
After all, a used car may cost less than a new car, but its still a significant amount of money to spend for many people. And knowing more about its history before you commit lets you make sure its safe and has no nasty surprises in store.
Has your dream car been well looked after? Is it roadworthy? Whos owned it before you? These are all questions that we can answer with history checks, vehicle inspections, approved dealers and more. We even offer 12 months free breakdown cover as standard to keep you on the road.
AA Cars helps you not only find your next car but makes sure that you buy with confidence too.
Electric Car Battery Capacity Over Time
Our latest research* into used electric cars, based on more than a thousand electric car owners, has shown there is a very slight but noticeable decline in usable battery range for older electric cars:
- 98% battery capacity electric cars up to three years old
- 92% battery capacity electric cars at seven years old
We will continue to monitor the state of battery degradation as we collect more data. While an eight percentage point reduction in usable range over six years might not be a dealbreaker, its something to think about if youre considering a used electric car or want to keep it for the long-term. However, if your car still has a decent range for your needs, its not likely to be an issue.
If youre ready to take the plunge and buy a zero-emissions car, we will help you pick the perfect new or used model for your budget and needs go to the best electric cars.
Best Used Car Websites For 2022
Buying a new or used vehicle is a big decision. Car buying in the twenty-first century is made simpler with the ability to utilize an app for car purchases. All vehicles can be purchased online, including cars, trucks, minivans, and SUVs. With the ease of car buying online, consumers do not have to leave the comfort of their couches to perform research, browse, inquire, or finance their next vehicle.
While apps make the car buying process more accessible, knowing which used car websites are best can be challenging. With this list of used car sites, you can shop with confidence that you will find the vehicle you are looking for and that the car prices emulate what the car is worth.
Here is a list of the best used-car websites today.
Because Autotrader.com nearly predates the internet itself, it has a longstanding reputation built upon decades of trust. Available as a website since 1997, Autotrader has over 3 million listings nationwide drawn from 40,000 dealers and 250,000 private sellers, and its vehicle selection is immense. In addition, the Autotrader website has a wide variety of filters that can help you narrow your search down to exactly the type of vehicle you are looking for.
Edmunds originated as a paperback booklet available at newsstands. And decades of experience have made the firm a well-respected name in the automotive industry. Today, their website allows you to save searches, create favorites, and filter your selections.
Tip #: No Accidents/floods
This is self-explanatory. Buying a used car like this is a game of Russian roulette
The only way I would buy a vehicle with an accident record was if the owner could prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the insurance claim record was only for minor non-structural damage liked a cracked bumper, broken rear-view mirror or windshield.
Make sure they can prove the repair by a receipt from a reputable body shop and a photo of the damage before the repair.
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Best Basic Option: Carsdirect
CarsDirect provides car buyers with an easy way to compare listings from local dealerships. Its uncluttered website, simple search engine, and user-friendly car buyer guides make CarsDirect our choice for the best basic used car site.
Find deals from local dealers
Apply directly for no-credit or low-credit loans
Fast and flexible customer service
Dealer listings only
Car down payment may be needed
Similar to Autotrader which launched the first online car marketplace for private sellers in 1999, CarsDirect launched the first website to help dealers sell directly to customers online in 1998. CarsDirect is owned by Internet Brands. Its our choice for the best basic option because of its simplified search engine and helpful buyer resources.
CarsDirect does more than simply show listings from local dealers, however. It also showcases the best deals in a buyers area as well as upcoming seasonal deals and pricing on upcoming models to help car shoppers focus their search.
Although CarsDirects search filters arent as detailed as Autotraders, the sites clean results page shows everything a buyer needs to know, including the CARFAX report and a Check Availability button that takes shoppers directly to the listing on the dealers website.
Tip #5 Dealer Maintained
A dealer-maintained used car is a rather obvious sign of a well-cared-for vehicle. Make sure that the seller can prove their dealer-maintained claim with a full print-off from the dealer.
- Keep in mind that you wont be able to get these records after the sale due to the privacy policies of the dealerships.
- Pay attention to the maintenance intervals
- Compare the factory maintenance schedule in the owners manual to the dealers maintenance record to see if the vehicle was maintained as prescribed.
You might not be as meticulous about car maintenance as the seller, but you still want to get a vehicle that has been maintained even better than you would.
Its kinda like marrying up and youre the gold digger. Your only interest is the intrinsic value of the car and that you gain from entering the relationship with your new car.
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Start Your Search Online
The modern car buying process has become a mixture of in-person and online channels, CarMax EVP of Strategy, Marketing and Product, Jim Lyski, told Engadget. Customers are going to want to do some things in the store, and a retailer can provide a way to allow them to personalize their journey where they can leverage any channel that they want, and those channels are tied together in a really seamless way.
We can already see evidence of this in the new car market, where online sales made up 30 percent of the total in 2020, up from 2 percent the year before, Alan Haig, president of automotive retail consultant group Haig Partners, told ABC News in 2021. Whats more, a Cox Automotive study from the same period found that customer satisfaction had reached record highs in 2020, with the overall process being more efficient with less time spent in physical dealerships.
But even those dont list every vehicle for sale in the area. Public boards like Craigslist or NextDoor are a treasure trove of highly affordable used cars that you wont find on the larger aggregators. Of course, these are going to be private transactions so youll want to take the standard precautions. Meet in a public area, insist on a presale mechanics inspection, dont with a big wad of cash and bring your most imposing friend along for moral support because seriously, this is Craigslist.
Buying A Used Car Privately
If youre on a budget, buying a secondhand car privately can prove to be a much cheaper option than visiting a dealer, but is it the best thing to do?
- Secondhand cars are usually priced much more cheaply when sold privately than at a dealership and theres often more room for negotiating as the seller isnt attempting to make a profit
- Buying privately offers a great opportunity to meet the previous owner of the car and get a feel for how well its been looked after. For instance If its clean, with few minor bodywork faults, then its probably been cared for over its life. As most dealers have a professional valeter clean all their cars, its harder to tell how well theyve been maintained
- Meeting the previous owner also gives you the opportunity to find out their motives for selling it – do they have a genuine reason, or is it a problematic car they want rid of?
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Can I Trust A Used Car Site
Used car sites that connect shoppers with private sellers can do little to offer a safe shopping experience. What they can do, however, is provide as much information as possible to help buyers make the most informed decision.
As a result, used car sites typically include CARFAX reports, information about how long a car has been on sale, and pricing comparison guides as well as search filters to help shoppers weed out the choices they dont want. Sites that aggregate listings from many online marketplaces can typically do little to ensure that the listings they display are trustworthy, and buyers must always do their due diligence when shopping for a car.
Weigh All Of Your Options
Search OnlineLook at websites like the CR Used Car Marketplace and Vroom. If youre willing to buy from an individual rather than a business, you can find listings on Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace. Be prepared to act, because sellers arent likely to hold on to cars very long in this market. Deals might disappear fast, so you may need to move quickly, Fisher says. But dont rush so fast that you overlook important details and end up with a purchase you regret.
Buy Out Your LeaseAlmost all lease contracts come with a buyout clause, so consider buying the car youre leasing when the term ends. If the buyout price for your car was set before the pandemic, its likely to be far lower than the car is currently worth on the open market. Buying the car youve been leasing could be your best bet in the current market, Fisher says. Youll be able to maintain the level of features and comfort youre used to and might have to give up if you bought another car at todays elevated prices.
Choose a Less Popular ModelAs always in recent years, SUVs and pickup trucks are very popular, which means there will be fewer of them that current owners will want to part with. Youre likely to find better availabilityand maybe even a dealon less popular models, such as sedans, hatchbacks, minivans, and front-wheel-drive SUVs.
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How To Buy A Used Car
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Shopping for a used car is like going on a treasure hunt. There are amazing deals out there, and with the emergence of the Internet as a car shopping tool, you have every chance of finding a good deal on a car that meets your needs and fits your budget.
There are plenty of incentives to buy used instead of new: It will save you money on car insurance, registration, taxes and depreciation, which is the loss in a cars value due to wear and tear over time. It also makes sense because cars have never been more reliable. Its not unusual for some vehicles to be trouble-free for well over 100,000 miles.
Heres an overview of the steps youll need to take to buy a used car.
S For Used Car Shopping
If youre buying a used car, it pays to be prepared. There are steps you can take before you ever visit a car dealer or shop the ads. Here are some resources you can use to compare cars, costs, and avoid problems.
Read up on what to expect.The Federal Trade Commission has tips to help you shop safely and avoid trouble down the road. Topics include:
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What Shoppers Value Most From Third
Theres nothing complicated about what shoppers value at third-party websites, suggests Mark E. Roszkowski, chief revenue officer at Vroom: selection and convenience.
Used cars are all different and buyers appreciate having multiple makes and models to choose from, with varying levels of mileage, options and features. When you give consumers access to thousands of vehicles to choose from, they dont have to compromise on getting exactly what they want.
And now, more than ever, he said, Consumers value the ability to buy or sell a vehicle without ever leaving home. They can shop and transact when its convenient for them, not others.
A spokeswoman for third-party website TrueCar said consumers also want a personalized experience.
Whether its shopping from home online or going to the dealership, needing to trade a vehicle or shopping for a used vehicle, consumers like to have options and need a personalized experience, the spokeswoman said. A third-party website that can provide consumers that kind of experience without having to visit multiple sites during the process stands out from the crowd.
The ability to do everything online is a huge advantage and differentiator, said Vrooms Roszkowski. Brands that offer end-to-end digital retailing for buying, selling, trading, financing, delivery are serving a true consumer need for a convenient, seamless experience.
Petusky of Cox Automotive stated the consumer value proposition in even simpler terms.
Tip #: Maintenance Records
As I mentioned earlier, maintenance records is an important keyword to use when searching online for your next car. Only conscientious owners keep records of their maintenance.
Obviously, the best kind of maintenance record is a print off from the dealership showing religious oil changes, a textbook maintenance schedule, and OEM parts repairs.
You want to buy your next car from a person who is a perfectionist.
You can easily get twice the longevity from a vehicle like this for the same price point as a multi-owner trade-in car with no maintenance records.
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Don’t Be Afraid To Haggle For A Used Car
If you decide to buy privately after checking and test driving the car, it’s time to negotiate a price. Look for things that could throw up costs in the near future such as a short MOT or worn tyres and use these as bargaining points.
Haggling with a dealer may or may not prove successful, but it doesn’t hurt to try, especially if you’ve seen a very similar car for a lower price elsewhere , or a used-car valuation suggests the dealer’s asking price is on the high side.
We’ve got expert tips on haggling, including our tried-and-tested script. So make sure you read our guide on how to get the best price on a car.
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How To Get The Best Deal On A Used Car
No matter where or who youre buying a car from, our best advice is to be polite and fair.
Its human nature to want some money off and, while some sellers will be open to negotiating, others will be less keen.
Take a positive approach and view it as a challenge – sellers rarely respond well to buyers making insulting offers and taking an over-the-top approach to haggling.
Walk around the car with the seller and highlight any issues youve found.
Theyre likely to already know about these – and may have already taken them into account when pricing the car – but itll help them see it from your point of view.
Before going to see the car, you should have looked into how it compares with others on the market , so youll know how much its worth.
With this in mind, set your budget in advance and stick to it.
If you feel the car is overpriced for the condition its in, make an offer and be prepared to walk away if the seller isnt willing to move.
You may find that the seller makes a counter offer – if not straight way, perhaps when youve driven home and showed youre not willing to pay more money.
If youre buying from a dealer, there may be scope to get some extras thrown in free rather than simply money off.
Ask for a full tank of fuel, for example, or a service or MOT if the car needs it.
Avoid being pressurised into buying a used car.
If you’re not 100% sure on the car, walk away there will always be more to see.
Don’t buy a car from a private seller in a public place.