buying a used car
What is Salvage title? Buyer Tips

Everything You Need to Know about Buying Used Cars

By Auto Auction Mall Team Updated: 06/09/2023 Posted: 09/25/2018

If you are looking to purchase a used car, you will, at some point in your car shopping, find both certified pre-owned cars, or CPO cars, and simply pre-owned cars. But, is there a difference? If so, what is that difference?

When it comes time for you to purchase a used car, you need to know these little differences as they can make a big difference in the end. A certified pre-owned car or CPO is one that is used but has gone through a series of testing to ensure that the vehicle meets the original requirements. Often, CPO vehicles will be offered at dealerships and come with a limited warranty.

Used cars or non-certified used cars or pre-owned cars are ones that do not go through the additional testing. These cars are offered at a lower price than CPO vehicles and it is important that you have them checked by a mechanic of your own to ensure they are in good working order.

Is a Certified Pre-Owned Car Right for You?

Determining whether a certified pre-owned car is right for you will depend on your needs and wants. If you are looking for a car that has already taken a depreciation hit, is still in almost like-new condition, and has been certified to be mechanically sound, then a CPO car is for you.

Certified used cars generally come with a warranty attached to them and a dealer can back up any claims made that the car is certified. It is important that as you shop for a certified used car that you do not just choose a car because there is a certified sticker on it. Do inquire with the dealer and verify that it has been properly certified before you settle.

Further Read

What Are Some of the Advantages of a Certified Pre-Owned Car?

certified used cars

Of course, there are some advantages that do come along with purchasing a used car that is certified. Below, we will talk about some of those advantages to give you a better understanding of what to expect.

Advantage #1: They are gently used cars.

A used car is a used car no matter what, right? Not always. In fact, a used certified car is gently used, which means you could be landing yourself a like-new car. For example, Lexus’ Certified used car program requires the car to be no older than 6 years and it must have less than 70,000 miles on it. Each certified used Lexus goes through a 161-point inspection done by trained and qualified techs.

Advantage #2: They are all inspected.

Another advantage of a certified used car, is that they have been inspected by trained and licensed mechanics. The inspections are very thorough, and many have 140-point up to 200-point inspections that take place. The purpose behind the inspection is to make sure that the entire car is in working order before it is offered for sale. This is done to a standard set by the vehicle manufacturer.

If any issues are found with the vehicle, the problems will be repaired before the car can be sold as certified.

Advantage #3: They have not been in a major accident.

A car that has been in a major collision can spell trouble for you. From frame damage to busted components under the hood, you may just be purchasing a whole set of problems. Certified pre-owned cars have NOT been involved in major collisions – in fact, most have not been in a collision at all.

Is a Non-Certified Pre-Owned Car Right for You?

A non-certified pre-owned car may be the right choice for you if you do not want to spend a significant amount of money on your new-used car. Non-certified used cars are going to be cheaper than their certified version, which makes them lucrative to many car buyers.

A non-certified used car is a good choice for someone who does not need to know that it has been inspected. For example, maybe you want to make some repairs on your own or maybe you have a mechanic who can come look at the car and give it a thumbs up approval.

Do keep in mind though that non-certified pre-owned cars do not come with a warranty in most cases and are often sold as is.

Dealer vs. Private Party Used Car Sales

Car For Sale By Owner

Now that you have a better idea about certified and non-certified used cars, we need to talk about where you can purchase a used car. Excluding auctions and inheriting a car, you can purchase a used car from a dealer or a private party.

When purchasing a car from a dealer, you, as the car buyer, do not have a lot to do. In fact, the dealer handles most everything related to the car and the purchase itself. You will be more hands off during this process and all you must do is look at the car, test drive it, and sign some paperwork. Dealers are licensed entities and are typically dealerships or used car lots.

A private party is an individual who does not have a dealer license and you will typically find private party individuals on sale sites such as Facebook or Craigslist. Private party sellers often advertise their cars for sale via a for sale sticker in the window. With this type of sale, you are more hands on and you will need to arrange the meeting, test drive, and you often pay cash for these types of deals.

Pros and Cons of a Dealer Purchase

  • Pro: The dealer is responsible for handling all the paperwork and the process
  • Pro: You have financing options you can choose from
  • Pro: You have the option of both certified and non-certified used cars
  • Pro: They have a diverse selection of used cars for sale
  • Pro: You have more legal protection in your transaction
  • Con: You may purchase a used car that is more than your budget allowed for
  • Con: You may feel obligated or pressured into a buy this car situation
  • Con: Used cars are often higher priced

Pros and Cons of a Private Party Purchase

  • Pro: You are in control of the purchase
  • Pro: You can negotiate the price and often lower the price too
  • Pro: Used cars are affordable and based on the KBB private party value
  • Pro: No high-pressure sales to worry about
  • Con: Not as much legal protection as with a dealership
  • Con: You can usually only pay with cash
  • Con: You do not receive any type of warranty with the car and you will not have the option to purchase a certified used car

Used Car Buying Scams

Used car buying scams

Buying a used car is a time of happiness, excitement, and joy, but, it is also a time for you to make sure that you are cautious and paying attention too. Used car scams do exist and you must be on the look out for some of the most common scams or you may find yourself stripped of your money and stuck with a car that doesn’t work.

Below, we will take a quick look at some of the most common used car scams and how you can avoid them at all costs.

Scam #1: Odometer Fraud

This is an age long scam and it occurs when someone tampers with the odometer. The reason behind the scam is to make it look like the car has less miles on it than it really does.

To avoid this scam, check the maintenance records of the vehicle you are interested in and match up the recorded miles with the miles on the car itself. This scam is more likely or happen with cars that have non-digital odometers.

Scam #2: Low Price Bait and Switch

This scam occurs when you call a dealership to inquire about a used car and they give you a low price for the car or they tell you they have an incredible special going on and you can save a lot of money.

The way it works is – you head into the dealership and then the sales person tells you the car sold, or they cannot secure that price any longer. Now that they have you at the dealership, they can sell you other, higher-priced used cars.

To avoid this scam, ALWAYS get a price for a used car in writing and research the value of the car BEFORE you call or head into the dealership. This way, you are armed with knowledge too. If it is too good to be true, it probably is.

Scam #3: Deposit into Escrow

The third most common scam is the one where a seller will tell you to put the deposit for the vehicle into an escrow account and once they receive the money, they will call you and you can finish the purchase of the vehicle. The only problem is, once you deposit the money, the seller will disappear with the vehicle and leave you empty handed.

The best way for you to purchase a vehicle is to do so face to face in a public space and NEVER exchange money for the car unless you feel comfortable doing so.

What to Look for and Think about When Buying a Used Car

buying a used car

Before you can purchase a used car, you must first decide on a used car. To do this, you need to take some time to evaluate the used car you are interested in and learn more about it.

With many difference used cars available on the market, you have many choices and you may feel overwhelmed at first. Below, we will help you think more about what to keep in mind as you look towards purchasing a used car.

Evaluate the Used Car: Look at the Features

One of the first things you should think about is the features of the used car. The bells and whistles of the car are the extras that help to make your car personable and they often offer additional comfort too. You should ask yourself what it is you want your used car to have. Below, you will find some of the most common features that consumers enjoy.

  • Four-wheel drive
  • Rear backup camera
  • LED headlights
  • Enhanced sound systems with DVD and CD capabilities
  • Bluetooth connectivity options
  • Navigation system
  • USB ports
  • Third-row seating
  • Front collision assistance or lane departure assist
  • Rear AC controls

Consider the Long-Term Cost of the Car

When you purchase a used car, you often only think about the cost of the car initially, such as the purchase price, the taxes and fees; however, a car will cost you money over the course of your ownership and it is important that you do determine how much it will cost you.

One helpful tool is the Edmunds True Cost to Own breakdown, which will tell you what the projected cost of a car is to own over a five-year period. The only downside to this tool is that it does not provide a breakdown of all model years. The tool does break down ownership costs into these categories:

  • Maintenance
  • Repairs
  • Taxes and Fees
  • Insurance
  • Financing
  • Fuel
  • Depreciation

Think About the Fuel Economy

One of the biggest ownership costs is fuel. The fuel economy of the car you choose will determine how much gas you must put into your car over its lifespan. The better the fuel economy, the more miles per gallon of gas you will receive. Cars that have a poor fuel economy will need to be filled up more often and if you travel a lot, you will find you spend a lot of money over the course of your used car’s life.

Here are two examples to consider:

Example A: 2017 Chevrolet Silverado C15 2WD

The 2017 Chevy Silverado receives an estimated 18 miles per gallon in the city and 24 miles per gallon on the highway for a total of 20 combined miles per gallon.

Estimated fuel costs for this 2017 Chevy Silverado are $2,150 with the average cost to drive 25 miles at $3.55.

Example B: 2017 Chevrolet Malibu

The 2017 Chevy Malibu receives an estimated 27 miles per gallon in the city and 36 miles per gallon on the highway for a total of 30 combined miles per gallon.

Estimated fuel costs for this 2017 Chevrolet Malibu are $1,400 with the average cost to drive 25 miles at $2.37.

Look at the History of the Vehicle and the Safety Rating

Vehicle History Report

Everyone wants to know that they will be safe in their vehicle and because of that, you want to take some time to research the safety of your chosen used car BEFORE you purchase it.

There are two main sources for you to obtain the safety information you need to about the used car for sale you are eyeing. First, you can run a check for safety ratings at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety or the IIHS. The second source is the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or the NHTSA. Both sources will provide you with a better idea of how safe the used car you are interested in is and how well it performed in any crash tests.

Once you are satisfied with the crash and safety ratings, you should pull a CARFAX or Vehicle History Report on the vehicle to ensure that it has not been involved in any accidents. You can also run a VIN check as well. You can also ask your insurance company how safe they rate the car, and the corresponding insurance premium they would charge you.

Choose a Used Car that Fits Your Lifestyle

Lastly, you do not want to settle on a used car until you know that it will fit your lifestyle. Often, consumers become wrapped up with the excitement of their used car purchase that they forget to look at the car from an unbiased view. You want to spend some time thinking about your plans for the next few years when you purchase your used car.

For example, do you want to have children? If so, how many and how soon? If you want to have four children in the next few years, then a small sedan will not meet your needs and you should choose an SUV, crossover, or something with third-row seating.

Also, consider what you plan to use the car for. If you are an avid bike rider or you like to go off road, then a Corvette is not going to meet this need.

Inspecting a Used Car BEFORE Purchase

A trouble-free used car is your goal and to make sure you walk away with the best possible used car, you need to make sure you perform an inspection before you make the purchase.

If you do not have knowledge about cars or you do not feel comfortable inspecting the car on your own, you can always hire a mechanic to come look at it for you. Either way, an inspection is the only way you will know if the used car is in good condition or if you will be making some serious repairs later down the road.

Always Do Your Homework about the Car You’re Interested In

As you shop for a used car, do take the time to do your homework about the car. One thing you want to keep in mind is that some cars are just simply troublesome from the beginning and there are some brands and models that are less reliable than others. To help limit how many repairs you will need to make on your used car, search for one that is reliable.

Understand the Sticker in the Window

All used cars that are offered for sale MUST have a window sticker in them according to the Federal Trade Commission. The sticker is placed in a visible area of the windshield or on one of the windows, so that consumers can look at it.

There is specific information that the window sticker must provide and that includes whether the car is sold as is or if it is sold with a warranty. In addition, the window sticker will often tell you the age of the car, miles, price, any additional or special features, and the fuel economy of the car.

It is important for you to look over this window sticker and learn more about the used car you are interested in.

Inspect the Used Car

Now it is time for you to start the inspection process. During this process, you will want to inspect both the interior and exterior of the car. You should start with these two areas first, as they are usually easier to inspect, and you will notice obvious signs of damage or wear immediately.

Interior of the Used Car

First, start with the interior of the car. You want to keep an eye out for any obvious signs of wear such as ripped seats, missing buttons, and overall wear. If you peek inside the used car and you are instantly turned off by it, then you should move on to the next used car on your list.

If this is your first time inspecting the interior of a used car, here are some things you should look at and pay attention to:

  • Roof
  • Pedals
  • Odors
  • Seats
  • Sound system
  • Controls and instruments
  • Trunk

Exterior of the Used Car

Once you have looked over the interior of the used car and you are happy with it, it is time to move onto the exterior of the car. As you look at the car, keep your eye out for any dents, dings, and scratches. If you notice any of these issues, do bring them up to the dealer as they may be willing to offer a discount, or they may be willing to fix them for you.

A great way to inspect the exterior of the car is to use your eyes first and then use your hand and move it along the body of the car to feel for any damage.

If this is your first time inspecting the exterior of a used car, here are some things that you should look at and pay attention to:

  • Suspension
  • Body
  • Lights and lens cover
  • Glass
  • Tires

Look Under the Hood and Check the Undercarriage

After the initial inspection of the used car’s interior and exterior, you now want to spend time on the mechanical components of the car. These are the components that make your car move. A used car that is not in good mechanical condition can mean expensive repairs for you.

If you are not comfortable checking the mechanics of a used car you are interested in, consider hiring a mechanic to come look at it for you.

Some of the components you should look at while performing a mechanical inspection under the hood:

  • Radiator
  • Hoses
  • Belts
  • Battery
  • Fluids
  • Engine

Some of the components you should look at while performing a mechanical inspection under the car:

  • CV joints
  • Tail pipe
  • Hoses
  • Brakes
  • Axle
  • Suspension

Used Car Problems: Warning Signs to Watch For

Inspecting a used car goes farther than just a quick look at the car and you will need to keep an eye out for some common warning signs too.

  1. Look at the oil cap. One of the first things you want to do is remove the oil cap and look for any signs of froth or a milky white or light brown liquid. If you notice either of these, it is a sign that the head gasket may be on its way to blowing and that coolant or water has contaminated the oil.
  2. Listen for odd noises. The next thing you want to do is start the car up and listen for any odd noise coming from the car. It is best to do this on a cool engine as it allows you to clearly hear the noise and once the car heats up, the noise may stop for some time.
  3. Check the transmission for easy of use. Lastly, get into the vehicle, turn it on, and then shift the car into every gear and listen for any noises and watch for any stiffening or trouble. These can mean that there is an underlying transmission problem.

Go for a Test Drive

As always, take the used car for a test drive to get a feel for it. Make sure you pay attention while on the test drive to any noises or odd shifts in the car. Of course, keep an eye on the dashboard for any lights and keep an even closer eye on the temperature gauge to ensure the engine does not have an overheating problem.

Have the Car Inspected by a Certified Mechanic

Before you purchase the used car, do have it inspected by a certified mechanic that YOU trust. Your mechanic will be able to look over the car and tell you if there are any obvious and not-so-obvious signs of problems.

If you are purchasing a certified used car, it is unlikely that you need to have another inspection done, as they perform their own inspections and can show you the checklist or paperwork that is required.

A private party seller may be hesitant to have a mechanic look at the car and, in these cases, you should look for another used car as it is often a red flag.

If the used car passes the inspection, then you can move forward on purchasing it, should you be happy with your decision and feel it is the right one.

Is the Price of the Used Car Fair?

We’ve talked about the different things you should look for in a used car and how to perform an inspection, so naturally, the next thing to talk about is whether the price of the used car is fair.

You will come across many used cars for sale as you shop around, and you will notice that the price of each one differs. In fact, you can go to one dealership and the price for one of their cars may be higher or lower than another dealership who has the exact same car.

So, how can you be sure that the price is fair? Let’s look.

Check Kelley Blue Book

You may have heard about Kelley Blue Book and it is an excellent source to provide you with information about your car, a car your interested in, and fair prices for new and used cars.

Kelley Blue Book is easy to use, and their online website will provide you with a lot of accurate information needed to make a decision about a used car. As you browse through their website, take a moment to input the used car’s information and the system will let you know the market value of the used car, the amount a dealer should offer the car for sale, and the private party value of the same car.

This will allow you the opportunity to look at the used car’s value and determine if the price the dealer is charging is fair.

Check AutoTrader

AutoTrader is another wonderful online source for you to use and this website will provide you with insight into what other similar used cars are selling for throughout the country.

While AutoTrader will not tell you the value of a used car, you can perform searches based on the same conditions of the used car you are looking at and find what others are selling and purchasing them for. Check the vehicle model and year, as well as condition for a guide price. You might also want to check by Zip Code, as prices may vary throughout the country.

Check Edmunds

Edmunds is a great place to look at the value of a used car. The website allows you to input the vehicle by year, make, model, trim, and zip code to find what the estimated value of the car is.

The website provides you with a breakdown of the trade-in base value, private party base value, and the dealer retail value. In addition, it will provide you with the pricing details for the added features on your car.

Buying a used car through online car auction


Asking Price, Dealer Retail Price, Wholesale Price: What Does It Mean?

When you are ready to purchase your used car, you will find several different prices and price terms. Each one means something different and it is important for you to know the difference too.

What is the asking price?

The asking price is best known as the price of the used vehicle that the seller is asking for it. For example, if you see a price on a used car sticker that says $10,000, that is the asking price.

Typically, the asking price is a starting point for the vehicle and many private parties and dealers expect some negotiation on this price. Consumer reports can help with guide used car prices.

What is the dealer retail price?

The dealer retail price is the price that the dealer wants to sell the vehicle for. This is also the highest price that the dealer can usually get for the used vehicle and will be the price that is displayed on the car, usually the windshield.

This price is usually like the asking price, but there may be more wiggle room with the dealer.

What is the wholesale price?

The wholesale price of a used car is the price that the individual dealership paid for the used car. This is the lowest that the dealership could get for the vehicle and break even. Typically, dealerships will price the vehicle several thousand above this price so that they make money on the sale too.

If you have ever heard someone say they will give a dealer $500 or $1,000 over the wholesale price, that means they will only pay the wholesale price plus that $500 or $1,000. This also means the dealership would make less too.

Negotiating the Price of a Used Car

It is always a good idea for you to negotiate the price of a used car. Simply paying the price on the used car’s window means you could be leaving money on the table for the dealership.

Who wouldn’t want to save hundreds or even thousands on their new-used car? You do not have anything to lose when you negotiate with a dealership or private party seller. Remember, the worst they can do is say no.

Below, we will provide you with some tips on how to negotiate fluently and easily with a dealership or private party.

  1. Know the Value of the Car

Knowing the exact value of the used car you want to purchase will give you some leverage here. A used car is only worth what an individual is willing to pay for it, so keep that in mind. With that said, you cannot just throw out a low-ball number and expect the person to accept it either.

Once you have the cat’s value in hand, you will can better negotiate the price of the car, especially if the dealership or private party seller is asking more than what it is worth.

For example, if a dealership is selling a used car for $17,000 but you found that the value was only $14,000, then the two of you may meet somewhere in the middle on the price.

  1. Do Not Give Up Easily

Dealerships, especially, will expect you to crack under pressure and they know if they refuse to negotiate several times or if they do not accept your offer several times, they may win the war.

You need to remain persistent on your stance and not budget on it. If you do need to budge, make sure that it is a price you are comfortable with. For example, if you want to purchase a used car for $10,000 but the dealership won’t go any lower than $10,500, you can choose to budge that $500 or walk away.

Typically, dealerships will call you back within a day or two to discuss and accept your offer; however, if they do not, do not think of it as a loss and simply move on to the next car lot to find your perfect used car.

  1. Avoid Saying Too Much

When you plan to negotiate with a private party seller or a dealership, you do not want to say too much. Often, the dealership’s salesman will ask you, “what type of monthly auto payments are you looking for?” Or, “how much are you looking to spend?” These questions get you roped into more expensive cars, for example an Aston Martin.

If you are asked what you are willing to spend or what your bottom offer is, simply counter with, “what is the best you can do for me?” This will allow you to see where they stand without costing yourself more money in the end.

On a Budget? Top 8 Used Cars for Sale UNDER $5,000

Wait, what? Used cars for UNDER $5,000? You read that right. You can get yourself into a nice, used car for less than you expected, AND we are not talking about 20-year old cars here either. Many of vehicles are also ideal for first time buyers.

In fact, the cars that you see on this list are less than 10 years old and each one has been vetted to ensure it has high scores in safety, reliability, and the cost of ownership.

Let’s look.

  1. 2009 Mitsubishi Galant
2009 Mitsubishi Galant

The 2009 Mitsubishi Galant is an excellent choice and has an overall score of 8.3 out of 10. This car can provide you with the comfort you need to get from point A to point B.

The average price of this used car is somewhere between $4,000 and $4,500. Safety and reliability are not an issue either as the Galant received a reliability score of 4 out of 5 and an 8.9 out of 10 for safety.

  1. 2010 Ford Focus
2010 Ford Focus

The 2010 Ford Focus is a small compact car that can provide you with the reliability and safety you are after. The Focus has been rated an 8.3 out of 10 overall, which means consumers are happy with their purchase.

The average price of this used car ranges from $4,300 up to about $4,900. Some of the loaded models sell for more than $5,000. The Focus received 4 out of 5 stars for reliability and an 8.6 out of 10 for safety.

  1. 2009 Scion tC

The 2009 Scion tC is a sporty looking vehicle that packs a punch. It is equipped with a USB port and a driver’s knee airbag. A used tC does come with an overall 8.2 out of 10.

With an average price of $4,100 to $4,400, you will be protected in this used car that has a safety rating of 8.2 out of 10 and a reliability score of 5 out of 5.

  1. 2009 Pontiac Vibe

The 2009 Pontiac Vibe has received numerous awards to include #5 in 2009 Hatchbacks and #10 in 2009 Affordable Small Cars. Some of the most notable features of this used car is that it received an 8.3 out of 10 and is available in all-wheel drive too.

The average price of a used Vibe is $3,900 up to $5,000 with some of the more advanced models being slightly over the $5,000. The vehicle boasts a 9.2 out of 10 for safety and a 4.5 out of 5 for reliability.

  1. 2009 Honda Fit

The 2009 Honda Fit is an excellent used car known for its reliability. The interior of the car is spacious and one of the best features of the car. This vehicle has an overall score of 9.1 out of 10.

The average price of a used Honda Fit is somewhere between $4,300 and $4,900 with some of the more advanced models being a little more. With an overall safety rating of 9.3 out of 10 and a reliability score of 4 out of 5, this is a great compact car for anyone.

  1. 2009 Toyota Scion xD

The 2009 Toyota Scion xD is a perfect little compact car for anyone, including a small family. This little machine can squeeze into small spaces for you but still provide a roomy and comfortable ride.

The average price of this used car is somewhere between $4,000 and $4,900. Most of the xD models can be purchased for under $5,000, but some models have additional features that can bump the price up to about $5,200. With an overall score of 8.3 out of 10, a reliability score of 4 out of 5, and a safety score of 8.5 out of 10, it is no wonder this car made this list.

  1. 2010 Kia Forte

The 2010 Kia Forte has received many awards to include #6 for 2010 Compact Cars and #8 for Used Compact Cars under $6K. This little machine is ideal for many individuals and has a roomy cabin and great standard features. This used car comes with an overall rating of 8.4 out of 10.

This used car has an average price of $4,400 up to $5,000 with some higher models costing a bit more than that. The Forte does have a 3 out of 5 for reliability but makes up for it with an impressive 9.2 out of 10 in safety.

  1. 2009 Mercury Milan

The Mercury Milan sports a fancy interior and has been ranked an overall 8.5 out of 10, which makes it a wonderful choice.

This used car has an average price of $3,900 up to $5,000 and is worth the money. The Milan sports a 9.6 out of 10 for safety and a reliability score of 4 out of 5.

Financing a Used Car for Sale

The purchase of a used car can save you thousands of dollars, especially if you pay with cash; however, not everyone has enough cash on hand and needs help with financing. Financing a used car is a good idea but, it is important to pay attention to the deal on the table, as financing can lead to spending more on your used car than you thought. Aquiring proper auto financing is better than just sticking payments on your credit card and hoping to stay on top of payments.

Below, we will talk about some of the tips and tricks you should keep in mind as you prepare finance and insurance for a used car.

Pro Tip: Remember, negotiating a good price is the first step to saving you a lot of money on your car!

Prepare Yourself BEFORE You Sit Down to Talk Financing

You never want to head into a financing office to purchase a used car if you are not prepared. The reason is because you will be taken advantage of and you will not be able to make the best decision simply off the top of your head. The more prepared and knowledgeable you are, the better.

This means you should sit down and determine what type of budget you must work with. Do not think about the price of the car at this moment. You want to focus on what monthly payment you can afford without any hardship.

Once you know what you can afford every month, learn more about your credit score. Your credit matters more than you think when it comes to a used car purchase. In fact, banks and financing companies can and will deny you a car loan if your credit is in the dumps. If your credit is not too bad, they may offer you a used car loan but at a hefty interest rate.

It would be wise for you to look at your credit score BEFORE you head into the dealer. If you find that your credit is lower than you thought or not as high as you would like, work on fixing it first. There are several free credit monitoring sites online that allow you to track your credit score and they provide tips to help you repair your credit too.

As you prepare to talk about financing, do avoid buy here, pay here unless you absolutely need it. These types of dealerships and car lots exist to help individuals with bad or no credit. Because of this, the auto loan terms are often extremely high as the dealer themselves offers the financing as opposed to a bank or financial institution. You may hear this term coined as in-house financing.

Dealer Vs. Bank Financing

When you are ready to finance a used car for sale, you will be presented with multiple financing options. Two of the most common options are dealer financing and bank financing.

Dealer financing can be lucrative for several reasons but there are some major drawbacks as well. This option will allow you to drive the used car home the SAME day where you may need to wait a couple days on an application to a bank. In addition, dealer financing allows you some play with your credit score and the terms to qualify are often not as strict as a bank’s.

The biggest problem with dealer financing is that there are often large registration fees attached to it. For instance, you may be charged a higher interest rate due to poor credit and there may be a loan origination fee that you must pay.

Studies conducted have shown that subprime borrowers or those individuals with poor credit scores had an average interest rate of 15.24% for their auto loan. When working with a dealer who does financing, you may have an even higher interest rate.

Bank financing takes place when a bank or financial institution such as a credit union holds the loan for your used car. Working with a bank for financing can be difficult, especially if you do not have a good credit score or your credit history is considered poor.

There are advantages to obtaining bank financing over dealer financing such as a loan interest rate, discounts at credit unions, and lower down payment requirements.

Prior to financing your used car with a bank, do research the interest rates and try to receive a pre-approval first as this will speed up the process as the dealership. Should you not be able to receive a pre-approval, the dealership can help you find financing through a bank.

Did You Know? You Can Choose Your Loan Terms

Some consumers do not know this, but you can choose your loan terms for a used car. Of course, your lender or the institution who chooses to finance you does have say in it, you also have some wiggle room.

As you shop for used car financing, you will be able to decide how much money you want to put down for your car, the interest rate, and the term length.

Now, keep in mind, while you can decide on your interest rate, down payment, and term of the loan, the financing institution often has a variety of choices for you. For example, if one bank approves you for an interest rate of 3.5%, you likely cannot wiggle much around this, but if they approve you for a 60-month loan term, you may be able to ask for a 72-month personalized loan term.

There are online loan calculators to help with the calculations.

Take some time to learn about the loan terms and decide what works best for you first and then find a bank that can work with you.

Close the Loan and Drive Your Used Car Home

If you are happy with the terms you have negotiated, and you are happy with the used car you chose, it is time to close the deal and drive your used car home with you.

Prior to leaving the dealership, do make sure you get a copy of the contract and never sign anything you are not comfortable with. Always ask questions for clarification and only close the deal if you are happy with it.

10 Used Car Buying Mistakes You Want to Avoid

We all have purchased something that we did not make the right decision about and we have all experienced some type of buyer’s remorse to some degree. As you can guess, consumers do make bad car buying decisions all the time and these bad decisions can lead to lost money, a car that is not fit to drive, and a headache.

In a 2014 study, AutoTrader found that more than two-thirds of individuals surveyed experienced buyer’s remorse after their car purchase. Uh-oh. You don’t want to be one of those individuals, do you?

Below, you will find 10 of the most common mistakes that consumers make when they shop for and purchase a used car. Do make sure you AVOID these mistakes.

Mistake #1: Only shopping at one dealership.

This is a common mistake made by many used car buyers and they simply fall in love with the first vehicle they see and make the purchase. Shopping at multiple dealerships offers you a wide selection of cars, but also interest rates, terms, discounts, and more.

If you are one who does not want to shop in person at several dealerships, you do not have to. In today’s world, you can shop online for a car!

Mistake #2: Focusing only on the monthly payment.

Above, we told you that you should sit down and come up with a monthly payment amount you can afford comfortably, and you should. But, one of the biggest mistakes that consumers make is that they ONLY focus on the monthly payment and nothing else.

It is vital that you focus on the monthly payment but also on the other components of the car loan such as the interest rate, the total price of the car, and any additional options that will cost you money.

Mistake #3: Not test driving the vehicle long enough.

A test drive of any used car you are interested in is required. Well, it is not required to buy the car, but required if you want to make sure there is nothing wrong with the car.

It can be easy to get carried away in the excitement of purchasing your used car, but do not let this excitement distract you from what is truly at stake. Take your time when you test drive the car and do make sure it meets your needs and that there are no odd noises or driving issues present.

Mistake #4: Assuming the dealership has your best interests in mind.

While your salesman may be friendly, and he may seem like he is ready to help you, he wants to line his pockets with his earned commission. Unfortunately, dealerships do not have your best interests in mind and while you may think they mean well, they are just upselling you and trying to make more money.

Mistake #5: Spending too much time shopping for a car.

Time is money. We have all heard that saying before and it could not be any truer in this situation. Often, people will spend days or weeks shopping for a car trying to get the best deal possible. While shopping for a deal is one thing, do not shop for a deal to the point where you are missing social events or giving up family time just to do so. Save time and search intelligently, with a plan.

Mistake #6: Forgetting to have a mechanic look at the used car.

You may think that a visual inspection and test driving the car are enough to determine if it is in good condition. If you are mechanically inclined, then it could very well be enough, but if you are not, you want to have a mechanic look at the car. Your mechanic will be able to tell you what, if anything, is wrong with it and what it would cost you to repair.

Mistake #7: Not calculating the true cost of ownership of the vehicle.

The true cost of ownership of a vehicle will provide you with some serious insight and many consumers never even think to check. Edmunds has a fantastic tool that can show you an estimate of what it would cost to own a car for five years.

Mistake #8: Choosing a car that does not meet your needs.

Arguably one of the worst mistakes you could make when purchasing a used car is choosing a car that does not meet your needs. It happens, especially when you are caught up in the excitement of purchasing your car, but, take time to evaluate your needs. Only choose a used car that can keep up with your lifestyle, work demands, family needs, and similar.

Mistake #9: Rushing to make a decision.

While it can be fun to buy a used car and it is exciting to shop around, you do not want to rush to a decision. This can lead to buyer’s remorse, choosing a vehicle that does not meet your needs, and going over your budget. Before you decide to buy the car, take some time to think about it and never feel pressured to sign any type of documents that a salesman may present you with.

Mistake #10: Trading in your old car.

Okay, wait, wait, wait. We have all been told that trading in our old car is a good idea because it not only helps take money off the cost of the car, but it looks good to financing companies.

While we are all used to hearing this, trading in your old car is not always the best idea and here is why. The dealership profits off your trade in. You would be better off to sell the vehicle as a private party. The dealership offers you less than what your car is worth so that they can turn around and sell it. Therefore, if your used car is worth $1,500, they may only offer you $900 or less. Accepting that offer means they make more than $500 on you.

You may want to skip the trade in option for now OR at least wait until you have negotiated a fair price on the used car before you bring up the trade.

6 Cars That Have Been Proven to Top Out OVER 200,000 Miles

200,000 miles! Wow. That is a lot, right? Especially if you purchase your vehicle when it has low miles on it. To think that a car can last that long is mind blowing, but it does happen.

In fact, any vehicle can last for 200,000 miles, especially if you are willing to bare the expense that comes along with it. However, there are some vehicles that are simply able to go 200,000 miles and further WITHOUT the need to spend thousands of dollars to do so.

If you want a reliable car that will allow you to travel everywhere you want to go, check out these 6 cars that can help you achieve that.

  1. Honda Accord

The Honda Accord boasts a nice engine and transmission that allow you to ride comfortably down the road. Honda is a well-known brand and many consumers consider it one of the most reliable too. With that said, a Honda Accord can easily rake in 200,000 miles or more without any major mechanical issues under the hood. No matter the year of the used Honda Accord you are eyeing, you will be in good hands.

  1. Toyota Sienna

There is a reason you see Toyota Sienna vans all over the road these days and that is because they are a top contender when it comes to reliable family vans. While the Toyota Sienna is not one of the most updated vans when it comes to interior and features, it drives nice, is quiet, and can easily top over 200,000 miles without thousands of dollars in repairs being needed.

  1. Toyota Camry
2016 Toyota Camry
2016 Toyota Camry

The Toyota Camry is a well-known make and model and has been a consumer favorite for many years. Each Camry is constructed with the consumer in mind and provides not only a roomy cabin but a wonderful fuel economy too. It comes as no surprise that the Camry can easily put 200,000 miles on it without the replacement of a transmission or engine in the process. With many newer versions of the Camry boasting excellent features, consumers continue to rate this as one of the top choices for sedans.

  1. Ford F-150
Ford F-150

When you think work truck or reliable truck, a Ford F-150 likely comes to mind. This is because the F-150 has built a name for itself and the brand sports the phrase, “Built Ford Tough,” which has never rung truer. This truck can take you EXACTLY where you want to go and the toughened V6 and V8 engines will easily provide you with 200,000 or more miles to enjoy.

  1. Honda Civic
Honda Civic

The Honda Civic continues to top lists of the most popular cars on the market and since Honda is known for its reliability and durability, it is no surprise that this little sporty vehicle can go 200,000 miles or more without any mechanical issues that sideline it.

  1. Toyota Prius
Toyota Prius

The Toyota Prius took the automotive world by storm by offering some of the best fuel economy to consumers. The car was manufactured with technology and simplicity in mind. Each Prius can drive on the road using only electricity up to about 25 miles per hour, which helps reduce the cost of ownership too. This little car is roomy and fits right into the 200,000-mile club.

Vehicle History vs. VIN Check on Used Cars

A vehicle history report is a type of report that should be generated for any used car that you are considering purchasing. This type of report is your window to the car and it tells you what, if anything, is or was wrong with the car.

There are two main providers of vehicle history reports, which include AutoCheck and CARFAX. All vehicle history reports are tied to an individual car’s Vehicle Identification Number and the data is collected over the course of the car’s lifetime.

For example, if you take your car in to have an oil change performed on it, the dealership or shop that you take it to will log that you had an oil change performed, the number of miles on the car at that time, and any other issues that were detected or corrected.

Further Read

What Exactly Appears on a Vehicle History Report?

As we mentioned above, the vehicle history report is a snapshot of the life of your car or the car that you want to purchase. While the report does show you repairs and maintenance that has been done to the car, the report cannot tell you if the car is mechanically sound, so you will still need to have the used car inspected by a mechanic.

Below, we will provide you with a quick look at what is contained on the vehicle history report.

  • Number of previous owners
  • How the vehicle was used in the past
  • Whether it is a salvage title or rebuilt salvage title
  • Any odometer rollbacks
  • Accidents, type, where the damage occurred, the severity
  • Recall accurate information
  • Maintenance records

What is the Cost of a Vehicle History Report?

There is a cost to receive a vehicle history report, so you want to make sure that you use them sparingly. We mentioned above two companies that you can receive a report from. However, this isn’t a step you should skip. Always expect to check the vehicle history before a purchase. Below, you will find a cost breakdown of what they charge.


The cost for a single vehicle history report through AutoCheck is $24.99. If you plan to check multiple used cars through their website, they offer a 25-report pack that is valid for 21 days and is $49.99.


The cost for a single vehicle history report through CARFAX is $39.99. If you plan to check multiple used cars, you do have two other options. CARFAX sells a 3-pack of reports for $59.99 and a 6-pack of reports for $99.99.

While you can purchase a vehicle history report for your own records, many dealerships, car lots, and private sellers will provide you with a FREE vehicle history report that they already paid for. Therefore, you do not have to spend your money to run one. Contact the seller regarding this prior to a viewing.

Is a Vehicle History Report Accurate?

Often, consumers wonder if they are just wasting their money when they purchase a vehicle history report. It is up to you in the end. While the vehicle history report is a good indicator of the car’s condition, it is not definitive, and errors can occur on the report or information may be missing.

For example, if a used car is taken to a dealership for repairs, but the VIN is not logged as having the repairs, the repairs would not show up on the vehicle history report.

In general, most consumers trust the report and would/do purchase them to give them a better idea about the used car for sale nearby.

What is a VIN Check?

Mentioned above is the term VIN, which is a unique number assigned to a vehicle and is known as the vehicle’s identification number. It is always a 17-digit number and is located on the driver’s side of the car as you look in the windshield near the dashboard.

If you cannot find the VIN on the dashboard, there are several other places it can be located. Check for the VIN at these locations:

  • On the engine
  • On the door frame
  • On the firewall of the car
  • On the steering wheel or the column
  • In the left side’s inner wheel arch
  • On the radiator’s support bracket

Your VIN holds information about your car such as the vehicle’s history, which we talked about above. In addition to repairs and maintenance, the Vehicle Identification Number can also tell you whether a car has been damaged in an accident, fire, or flood and if it has ever been stolen or recovered.

While a vehicle history report is the best indicator to the cars condition based on its past, the VIN number can help you better understand if the car was ever stolen, was a total loss, been in an accident, and similar.

A VIN check is offered for FREE from the National Insurance Crime Bureau, so you do not have to pay for the check. However, you are only allowed a total of 5 VIN checks within a 24-hour period.

If you are interested in learning more about whether the used car you are looking at has any recalls on it, you can check the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. This check is offered for free as well.

Warranty Information About Used Cars

When you purchase a used car from a private party, it is not going to come with a warranty and you are purchasing the car as is and based on the seller’s representation of the vehicle.

Now, when you purchase a used vehicle from a dealership, there is the possibility that you may receive a warranty with the car. While it may be not be common, it is not uncommon or unheard of either.

Below, we will introduce you to the four main types of warranties that come with a used car for sale at the dealership.

As-Is – No Dealer Warranty

When purchasing a used car, you will likely see a sign that says it is sold as-is. This is common practice and as mentioned above, most do not come with any type of warranty. If a vehicle is going to be sold as-is, the dealership must disclose this to you. While the salesman may not say anything to you about it, there will be a box checked on the window sticker that reads, “As Is – No Dealer Warranty.”

Implied Warranty

An implied warranty is basically your small ticket to some protection should something happen to your car. Most states have laws that require dealers to sell cars that meet a quality standard. This reasonable standard is an implied warranty and does not have to be written down or even spoken about.

To get out of an implied warranty, the dealership would need to provide you with a document that sells the car as is or sells it with all faults.

Full and Limited Warranties

Sometimes, dealerships do offer warranties with used cars and these are referred to as full or limited warranties. These will often cover all the car or some of the major components of the car.

It is important to pay attention to any full or limited warranty you are offered as they often come with terms and conditions that must be met. For example, the terms may be that you must have all oil changes done within the specified timeframe and if you don’t, then your warranty is voided.

Extended Warranties

Extended warranties are those that extend beyond the initial warranty period. For example, if your used car came with a limited warranty, the extended warranty kicks in once the limited one is up.

When purchasing an extended warranty, you will find that there are many different types available from bumper-to-bumper to up to 200,000 miles and an array of other combinations.

Additional Warranties

There are several other additional warranties that you can purchase and while they are deemed warranties, they are not the same in the sense of they cover the engine or transmission if there is a problem.

These types of additional warranties cover things such as roadside assistance services, emissions repairs, and corrosion protection.

Service Contracts: What Are They?

A service contract is often referred to as an extended warranty from the dealership, but it is not a warranty. A service contract is a type of contract between you and the dealerships that states the dealership or approved third-party repair shop will help you fix or maintain your used car for a specified number of months.

These contracts do not come with the vehicle and are not free either. They will cost you extra money and are either due at the time of purchase or they are tacked onto the car loan that is financed through the bank or dealer.

Sometimes, service contracts cover what is included in a warranty and sometimes they do not. You must weigh your options to determine if the service contract is worth it to you.

As you look at the service contract, keep in mind that you do NOT have to buy it. If you feel it is too expensive or not worth it, you can pass it up. Do make sure that the lender who finances your loan does not require a service contract and do not allow the salesman to push you into purchasing one if you do not need it. Look over your contract carefully before you sign it as some salesmen will sneak the service contract in there.

Auto Warranty Scams – How to Avoid Them

There are companies and individuals out there who will try to scam you and tell you that you are guaranteed warranty coverage for your used car when you are not. Often, consumers receive mail and phone calls about extended warranty coverage on the vehicle and the companies that call or send you mail are wanting to sell you a plan.

It is important to keep in mind that these extended warranties or service contracts sell for hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars and you will be responsible for paying it up front.

Calls from companies about service contracts usually include high-pressure sales and you may feel obligated to purchase one. Remember that it is not required by your loan provider and you can get a service contract through the dealership, should you choose this route.

One of the tactics that these companies like to use is to tell you that your used car’s warranty is almost out of date or about to expire. Take a moment to check your records and paperwork because it is likely that it is nowhere near the expiration date.

Another quick scam is fast-talking telemarketers. This scam works by talking so quickly that you only hear bits and pieces of information. As you put together that information, the service contract sounds good but, it is nothing more than a waste of your money.

Lastly, NEVER give out any personal information about you or your financials to anyone on the phone or through the mail. The dealership and vehicle manufacturer will never contact you via the phone to inquire about your personal or financial information.


A lot of information has been provided to you and after reading through this guide, you should be able to purchase yourself a used car for sale and know, not only what to look for, but what to expect when you do go shopping. Remember, choose a used car that meets YOUR needs and never let a salesman talk you into a used car that you are not comfortable purchasing.