Car Buyer Labs

Car Buying Advice, Tips, and Reviews

A white 2017 GMC Sierra, one of the popular used trucks for sale, is driving down the middle lane on a highway.

Get the Most Out of Your Used Truck

Navigating the world of used vehicles can be a daunting and confusing process. Between unclear vehicle histories, unforeseen mechanical issues and countless sources to buy one, finding used trucks for sale that you can trust is easier said than done.

To help make things a little easier, we’re going to take a closer look at some of the more important steps you need to take to ensure that you’re getting the most for your money when you shop used. Remember: just because that used truck has 100,000 miles on it doesn’t mean that it can’t give you 100,000 more.

Why Used?

To start, let’s get one of the foremost and most obvious advantages of buying a used truck out of the way. Simply by going the used route instead of new, you will save huge amounts of money. In addition to this, you also save a significant amount of money in the long run by avoiding depreciation values. According to an article from Nerdwallet, most new cars lose a staggering 20 percent of their value as soon as you buy it. And by the end of the first year, through normal wear and tear, your vehicle will typically lose about 30 percent of its initial value. So, simply by choosing to buy a new car, you would sacrifice up to $9,000 dollars on a $30,000 car in only one year’s time. After buying new a few times over a few decades, these combined costs become astronomical.

So, if you’re willing to buy on the used market, you can pick up a car or truck after this extreme initial value depreciation has already taken place. By buying after the 30 percent drop, your car will experience much less depreciation over the remainder of its life and will have a better resale value overall.

Shop Around!

One of the first hurdles most used car or truck shoppers will encounter is where to start. Between personals sites such as craigslist, dealerships, and outlets such as CarMax, the options for where to go and who to trust with your purchase can be a bit overwhelming. Here are a few good places to consider when starting your search.

Dealerships- One of the more established and trustworthy options for buying a used vehicle, dealerships are a great place to look if you don’t mind spending a bit more money. Dealers justify their overall higher cost by providing services such as in-house financing assistance and certified pre-owned used vehicles. In addition to these excellent perks, many dealerships will also offer a robust warranty program to ensure that you drive off the lot with confidence. If your budget isn’t tight, a respectable dealership is likely your best bet for a great used car that you can trust.

Used Car Retailers- Used car retailers such as CarMax are another extremely popular way of buying reliable used vehicles. And while the format may be a little bit different than a traditional dealership, the pros and cons are generally pretty similar. Used car retailers will often have an in-house finance team, very competitive low prices, and even a certified pre-owned program. However, some shoppers may still feel more comfortable shopping at a name brand dealership.

Private Sellers- Now with private sellers, we get into much more broad and complicated territory. It should go without saying here that the private seller experience will vary entirely based on who you’re dealing with. Whether it’s through Craigslist, eBay, or simply someone you know personally, buying from a private seller should always be a judgment call. The obvious advantages here are bypassing long waits at a dealership or the inevitable fees that come with them. However, if it’s someone you don’t know, you need to be extremely cautious when it comes to vehicle histories and previous owners.

Don’t Buy Without the Vehicle History

A couple is talking to a car dealer holding a clipboard with vehicle history.

Though we’ve already mentioned it in this article, we can’t stress enough how important it is that you know every detail of a used car’s history before you commit to a purchase. A vehicle history report provides a wide variety of crucial information regarding the previous ownership and current condition of your used vehicle. A thorough vehicle history report will show you any history of accidents, other instances of damage, such as floods, how many owners it has had, and the actual odometer reading (in case of any tampering). A vehicle report will also give a detailed account of inspection and service history. This will allow you to know if the car has needed any serious work over its lifetime and whether or not it has been properly maintained.

Regardless of who you end up buying your used car or truck from, make sure to ask them for a vehicle report for you to review first. If the seller does not have one on hand, you can obtain a report yourself from a third-party. Companies like CarFax provide simple and affordable vehicle history reports to help you buy with confidence.

Get Someone to Look at It

Even if you trust your seller and have obtained a comprehensive vehicle history report, it’s always a good idea to run the car or truck by a mechanic before you finalize your purchase. While history reports give you a detailed account of everything the car has been through, it can be helpful to have a professional closely inspect your vehicle from a mechanical standpoint to address any issues. While things may look good on the surface level, a trained mechanic can see a little deeper to where parts and accessories may be on their last leg. No one wants to spend money on a used car only to shell out the money for a new transmission or alternator just a few months later. If you’re buying from a dealership, especially if it’s pre-owned, you can usually safely assume that such an inspection has already taken place. If you’re buying through a third-party or personal vendor, it may be a wise idea to take it to a trusted mechanic for a once-over.

Happy Shopping!

With all this being said, it’s not our intention to scare anyone off of buying a used vehicle; quite the opposite! Buying used is a great way to get yourself a nice and dependable car or truck for a tiny fraction of the price. By deciding against buying a car brand-new, you can dramatically expand your options to types of vehicles and trims that never before would have been in your budget.

If you heed our advice, shop smartly and make sure that you’re only dealing with reputable sellers, shopping on the used market is an exciting process filled with a ton of possibilities. Just remember to do your research, get everything inspected, get your hands on a vehicle history report, and you should be good to go. And now that we’ve covered just about everything you need to know, the only step left is to get out there and see what the used market has to offer. Good luck and happy shopping!