Used vehicles usually offer the best value in the automotive market.
This is especially true for models less than five years old.
The first owner has absorbed the immediate depreciation the moment they drove the car off the lot. As well, ongoing ownership expenses such as collision insurance and taxes are usually lower on used than on a brand new vehicle.
In addition, a used car offers the opportunity to get in a nicer car, possibly with more options, than you’d be able to afford new.
The challenge is navigating the sales process and ensuring you are getting value, quality and reliability in the used car as well as honesty, transparency and support during and after the purchase process.
Whether you are looking for a certified pre-owned or a private sale, or are buying from a dealer or neighbor, there is a wealth of online resources to lean on to help during the shopping and purchase process. From Consumer Reports “Used Car Buying Guide”, to Hemmings “Classic Car Price Guide”, to Edmund's “10 Steps to Buying a Used Car” - there are strategies, suggestions, warnings and tips for purchasing used vehicles of all prices, models and makes.
Jalopnik, Wheels.ca offer the latest car reviews, guides, road trip ideas, and advice to enhance the driving experience as well as a great tips that will help during the used car purchase process. Here are a few useful, common sense suggestions:
Research your purchase
Research the model to extensively to understand what model you want. Known weak points, the usual repairs and repair costs and price points. Use fan/blogs for that model vehicle when possible. Online forums frequently discuss reliability concerns, things like jerky transmissions and short-lived air conditioners. New-car reviews rarely mention these issues, but many owners aren’t shy about sharing their experiences. Look for any angry online posts regarding your desired model before venturing onto the used car lot.
Word of mouth
Friends and colleagues can provide invaluable input – let them know you’re looking for a used car. They can share their vehicle and purchase experience and even recommend a quality used car dealer.
Know how much money you can spend
It’s smart to know how much money you can spend on your next car. What is your trade-in worth? That money can go a long way in helping you leverage your used automobile purchase.
Dealer or private sale?
Private sales can be a gamble. You just don’t know what you are getting: maybe a lemon from curbsider who sells multiple vehicles posing as a private seller or a gem from someone who has babied and maintained the vehicle with the utmost care and attention. One strategy Victoria Premium Automobiles endorses and practices is up-to-date vehicle documentation, car histories and inspections.
Victoria Premium Automobiles relies on CarProof, a Canadian provider of vehicle history reports to provide buyers’ critical used vehicle information. A CarProof report establishes trust and transparency between a used car buyer and a used car seller by removing the guesswork about a vehicle’s past – replacing it with impartial, accurate and real-time data.
CarProof’s Vehicle History Reports include:
- Real-time data. Live, real-time data sources provide you with up-to-the-minute information from provincial governments, private and public insurance agencies and many other providers.
- Lien details. CarProof is the only service that offers cross-Canada lien and/or security interest information (look for our Verified products for this lien information).
- Accident data. Learn whether the vehicle has been in an accident, what type of incident occurred and the amount of damage.
- Registration and branding. Discover which provinces the vehicle was registered in and whether the car has been negatively branded.
- Full Canadian and U.S. history. See a complete picture of any vehicle history from across Canada, as well as the U.S.
- Bilingual information. CarProof’s website, vehicle history reports and customer service is available French and English.
Take a close look at the used vehicle
Wheels.ca suggests prospective buyers “look for paint overspray on door seals, mufflers and wheel-well liners — a sure sign of collision repairs. You may find shattered glass fragments under the seats. A mildew smell indicates a stubborn water leak. Fresh undercoating may be masking recent structural repairs. Lit warning lamps may be a portent of expensive engine repairs. Motor oil that resembles a frothy milkshake often means there’s a blown head gasket or worse. The transmission fluid should be bright red or reddish brown; any darker and there may be problems.”
Also, take the used vehicle for more than a spin around the block. Take a 35-minute drive, warm the used car or truck up, go over some speed bumps and listen for rattles and feel for the vehicle’s structural integrity.
Have your own technician inspect the used vehicle
An expert eye able to spot undisclosed repairs after a collision, unibody inconsistencies and alterations and paint overspray as well as mechanical problems is crucial. Spend the money and time to protect yourself and your purchase.
Rely on your instincts
Does the private seller, salesman or dealership engender trust and confidence in you? Are they ignoring questions and concerns as they try to strong-arm you into signing a sales agreement? If you’re not happy with the way negotiations are going, head for the door. Future vehicle problems can lead to future pain and angst if the private seller, salesman or dealership pay your little attention to your pre-sale concerns.