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Saving big by buying a used car

Learn how to shop for a new (used) car!

Many people try to get a deal on a new car, but unfortunately, as soon as you drive the car off the lot, cars quickly lose thousands of dollars in value due to the immediate depreciation. For this reason alone, you should consider buying a used car instead.

Others try to save money by buying a newer used car. This works because you allow someone else to take the immediate hit of new car depreciation, and you swoop in and get a gently used vehicle without the value drop. If you want to save a ton of money and still get a fantastic vehicle, here are some tips for buying an older used car.

As I mentioned above, once a car has driven off the lot, it loses thousands of dollars in value instantly. This may make older used cars even more attractive than late-model used ones because you could get a much better deal with a nicer version of an older car.

How to find a reliable used car

When you're looking for an older used car, you need to research to ensure that you find one that will last. Many companies review the reliability of used cars, including websites like Kelley Blue Book and CarFax.

When looking at cars with different mileage (and price tags), it’s important to consider the car's history. That’s where your research comes into play. Understanding if the car has been in an accident, in need of repairs, or used to be a rental car and has had multiple drivers all could impact the overall quality and reliability of the vehicle. Looking up cars by their vehicle identification number (VIN) will help you determine if the price of the car fits the history.

When looking for a used car, you may want to consider looking for a certified pre-owned car. A certified pre-owned (CPO) car is a type of used car that has been thoroughly inspected, refurbished, and certified by a manufacturer or dealer. Typically, these vehicles have low mileage and are in good condition, having been returned to a dealer or traded in after the original owner's lease ended or they decided to sell it.

Finding a used car

You'll want to look around to find an older used car in good condition. Try multiple auto repair shops, dealerships, and car shows. When buying an older car, finding an owner or dealer who kept detailed maintenance records is ideal.

However, any used car you find, you should take to an independent mechanic to ensure everything runs smoothly with the car that you (or the seller) may not be aware of.

Buying a car is a major financial decision. While the temptation to buy the newest, shiniest car may be in the back of your mind, just know you could be saving thousands of dollars by just shopping for cars made even 2-3 years prior.

So, shop around, and do your research when shopping.