Few things are as tempting in our society as the thought of owning a brand spanking new automobile. It’s not unlike the desire many of us had to own a tricked out bicycle when we were kids. When the discussion ensues over the water cooler regarding the first thing we’d do if we won the lottery, nine times out of ten we respond with the name of a big bad German made car or a oversized American truck. Of course fantasizing about a new set of wheels is one thing but buying one is something else all together.
Currently in the U.S. 14 million men and women that are 25 years of age have never purchased a new car and 44 million 16-24 year olds drive used as well. A whopping 80 percent of the y-generation (1977-1994) suggests that they can’t buy new. It’s no wonder when the average cost of a new car goes up every year. In 2013 alone the average new car price went up $1,536.
It sounds like doom and gloom for anyone who wants a nice car, but there is a silver lining. With just a bit of research and a little work anyone can have a “like new” car for a fraction of the new car price. These well maintained vehicles are still shiny, they often even still smell new, and they are built to last for years.
The reason for this upswing in quality is market demand. A few years ago a couple of big car manufacturers started adding quality and reliability to their line of cars. It didn’t take consumers long to notice and it didn’t take the other car companies long to notice the impact the competitor’s quality had on sales. Today’s automobiles are built better with more creature comforts and safety features than at any other time in history.
Of course that’s not to say that there are still a few lemons out there. That’s why it’s important to utilize all the data and information available to us when we start the buying process.
Reliability Should Never Take A Back Seat
To get the most for your money do the research, talk with friends and associates and kick a few tires. Also, make the projected longevity of your car or truck more important than chrome wheels or tinted glass. Here are just a few tips to consider in the used car buying process:
Arrange your used auto financing first.
Look at credit unions, online banks or even traditional banks. Only take dealer financing if it beats any other offer you have. Of course, I would love for you to pay for an affordable used car completely in cash!
Check With Your Agent.
People often wait until the last minute to discuss a car purchase with their insurance agent. Have a talk with your agent early on. Let him know that you’re considering purchasing an automobile and find out how the vehicle you’re considering might affect your insurance costs.
Make sure the used vehicle is worth what you’re paying.
Check Edmunds.com, KBB.com or NADA.com for the true market value so you come up with a feel for the price. You can also use CarGurus.com, which lets you put in your zip code and the make/model of the vehicle you’re interested in at their website. They’ll comb through some 2 million listings available on published databases and rate the vehicles available for sale with notations of “great price,” “good price” “fair price” and on down.
Check the vehicle number.
Run the VIN through CarFax.com to find out if it’s a flood vehicle or if it’s been in a horrible accident. Have the used vehicle inspected by an independent mechanic. One of the key things to know about buying a used car is that you buy “as is.” CarFax alone is not enough of a check; you need to take this additional step. Never rely on any representations that the salesperson makes about the car, be it a commissioned employee at a dealership or an independent seller in your neighborhood.
Check out your no-haggle buying options.
It can be tough to find a diamond in the rough and weed out the lousy deals. Try Carvana.com, which has a 7-day no questions asked return policy. It’s kind of like the Carmax of the online used car buying world.
Beware of the impact of fuel efficiency mandates on reliability.
J.D. Power’s new 2020 Long-Term Dependability Study takes a look at how many popular car models hold up after 3 years of ownership. Quality is too often being sacrificed in the name of fuel economy.
The purchase of a used car is one of the larger investments we make. It deserves the appropriate time and consideration of a big-ticket item. You’ll never regret the time you spend making the right decision.