Car Buyer Labs

Car Buying Advice, Tips, and Reviews

A yellow 2021 Ford Bronco is shown parked off-road after viewing used cars for sale.

Answers to All of Your Top Used Car Questions

Buying a used car is what more drivers are doing these days, especially after you take a look at some of the sticker prices on new models. Used vehicles allow you to get more of what you want in a car without overpaying for it, and with the rising costs of everything these days, saving money is vital. There are many used cars for sale all around you, but not all of them warrant your interest, and if you have questions about buying a used car, you are definitely not alone.

So, how long can a car last? Do used cars actually, save you money in the long run? If you have questions, get ready because we have answers. Let’s set the record straight when it comes to some of the most popular questions about used cars.

Q. How Long Can a Car Last?

A. Back in the day, a car was considered “old” when it was approaching 100,000 miles; however, today, vehicles easily surpass this number and keep on rolling confidently down streets across America. With proper care and maintenance, used vehicles can last well past 200,000 miles, some pushing 300,000 and above. In the U.S., the average lifespan of passenger cars, according to Progressive, is 12 years. When you buy a reliable, sturdy, and durable model, you can extend its lifespan even longer. The key is to do your research and find a brand that holds its value over time, one that is built well with high-quality parts so that you are able to enjoy this car for years without issue. Partnering with a reputable service center will also help you maintain your vehicle properly so that it continues to offer a safe and dependable ride, mile after mile.

A red 2019 Ford Explorer is shown driving on a highway.

Q. What Year Is a Good Used Car to Buy?

A. The industry labels this the “sweet spot” for used cars, and it typically consists of models about 3-4 years old with approximately 30,000-40,000 miles on their odometers. As the years go on, the automotive industry becomes more advanced, thus allowing the cars produced to become more advanced. Models that are a few years old contain many of the highly sought-after tech and comfort features today’s drivers are looking for, and being that depreciation has already affected them for the most part, they are cheaper as well. Cars tend to depreciate the most within their first year, so choosing a model that’s a couple of years old will allow you to enjoy modern features without the high price tag.

Q. What Is the Most Sought-After Used Vehicle?

A. In the U.S., pickup trucks remain the best-selling used vehicle, with the Ford F-150 occupying the top spot on this list. Pickup trucks are outstanding at performing various tasks, with exceptional capabilities, top-level power, and durable builds, which can cost a pretty penny when buying new. Finding them used, however, allows drivers to take advantage of these terrific features and power for a fraction of the price. This helps workers on the construction site, everyday commuters, and adventurers find the truck that is perfectly in tune with their needs, all for a price that works with their budget.

Q. Are Used Vehicles Expensive?

A. Inherently, used cars have been known to be cheaper than their new counterparts, but in recent years, the prices of used cars have begun to rise. Used cars were higher in price around the time of the pandemic, but since things have calmed down, used car prices are starting to drop. They remain higher than pre-pandemic prices, but we are seeing significant reductions in used car sticker prices. Perhaps their prices skyrocketed so much during the pandemic because many automakers weren’t able to manufacture new vehicles with various material shortages plaguing them, which made used vehicles the go-to choices for drivers everywhere. Once drivers saw how beneficial used cars were, many never looked at the new car lot again.

A blue 2020 Ford Fusion is shown parked near a city.

Q. Do Used Cars Actually Save You Money?

A. Yes, used cars, in most cases, save drivers money, primarily when you research and ensure that the vehicle you are buying is high quality. Not only are you able to enjoy lower prices due to vehicle depreciation, but you are also able to enjoy lower insurance rates, helping you save even more money monthly. For buyers with good credit, used vehicles also come with lower down payments, which makes it worth it to explore the used selection at your local dealership.

Q. What Are the Benefits of Used Cars?

A. In addition to costing less than many new vehicles, used cars provide you with an expanded selection of options. If you have ever strolled through your local used vehicle lot, you have probably noticed that there are many options from various brands, consisting of different models with different features, trim levels, and capabilities. You have more options when you buy used, and you can get a higher quality vehicle for less. This means that a luxury vehicle or a more expensive trim is more affordable, allowing you to take advantage of a more satisfying ride.

An orange 2021 Ford Mustang is shown driving on a city street.

Q. What Precautions Should Be Taken Before Buying a Used Car?

A. You want to be sure that the used car you are interested in does not have any underlying issues, which is why it is beneficial to look at its Vehicle History Report. You will also want to inspect it thoroughly and take it for a test drive to ensure there are no problems with how it operates and handles the roadway. Above all else, partnering with a dealership that’s trusted in the area will help you find a quality used vehicle that won’t let you down. If you shop from a respected auto dealer, you are more likely to have your pick from better quality models than cut-rate dealers. It’s also helpful to ease your mind when the dealership offers benefits for used vehicles, like specialized warranties.

Q. What Should You Consider When Buying a Used Car?

A. A car is an essential purchase, so you want to be sure that you are making the right choice before you sign on the dotted line. Consider how you will be using the vehicle to choose the best fit for your travel needs. Maybe you are in need of a larger vehicle for your family, or perhaps an efficient commuter is on your mind. Knowing how you’ll use your vehicle will help you narrow down your options; after all, you’ll have plenty of them on the used car lot. Again, do your research and find a dealership that you can trust because oftentimes, these dealers will have the best selection of high-quality vehicles.

When it comes to shopping for a used car, don’t be afraid to ask questions, and if you get the feeling that the dealership you’re working with doesn’t have your best interests in mind, don’t be afraid to go elsewhere. Used cars can last long, providing their occupants with a safe and reliable ride for years, but not all used cars are created equally. Getting educated on used cars and the buying process will help you maximize your experience so that you can drive off the lot in a vehicle that meets your needs. When it comes to your travels, you deserve to drive a car that suits you, and with all of the options on used car lots across the country, your ideal car is waiting for you.