Car Buyer Labs

Car Buying Advice, Tips and Reviews

A row of silver and white used cars for sale are in a bright dealership.

How to Make the Most Out of Your Used Car Buying Experience

So, you’re looking to purchase a car? Chances are you’re probably feeling a little intimidated at the moment. The automotive world is sprawling, filled with many models, features, trims, and complex facts to keep in mind when purchasing; and that doesn’t include whether you should buy new or used. Visit any local car dealership, and you’ll likely find a wide selection of used cars for sale. In some instances, used cars are overlooked by potential buyers, and wrongfully so.

Sure, new cars can come with plenty of bells and whistles and all of the latest features, but it isn’t your only way to become an auto-owner. Used cars aren’t just cheaper, but in some cases, they can offer the same kind of reliable and fulfilling driving experience that new cars can bring. That said, when it comes to buying a used car, things are a little more complicated than heading down to your local dealership and picking up the first model that catches your eye. Your used car buying and ownership experience can dramatically shift depending on where you go and what kind of model you pick. Fortunately, we’ll go over all the details to ensure that your used car buying experience is top-notch from start to finish.

The Difference Between Buying Used and New

A salesman is talking to a couple at a used car dealership.

If you’re new to the car buying experience, you may be currently asking yourself: ‘what is the big difference between buying used and new?’ This is a fair question to have, as, at first glance, there doesn’t seem to be much of a difference outside of price and model year. In truth, things are a little more complicated than that.

When you enter a car dealership and browse both their used and new car selection, you may notice more variety in their used showroom. Many dealerships carry models from across the auto-industry landscape within their used collection. This fact lends to far greater variety and the opportunity to really find a car that clicks with you. Adding to that variety is the fact that buyers can select from vehicles from a number of model years that can date back pretty far. While you won’t likely find vintage classics within a dealership’s used car showroom, you can opt for models that aren’t even in wide-spread production anymore.

Of course, the obvious difference is the sticker price, and for many drivers, that price matters. New cars can come with a hefty price, one that you can find yourself paying off for many years to come. While this isn’t an issue for some potential buyers, it can be a big red flag for others who may be on a tighter budget. Some drivers even decide to buy used as they plan to further modify the vehicle, which can come with additional costs of their own.

All that said, there is even further difference within used vehicles. Browse any selection of used cars for sale, and you’ll likely find the option to purchase between used cars and Certified Pre-Owned cars. These two types of used vehicles are very different from one another and can define your overall driving experience in the long-term.

Different Kinds of Used Vehicles

Within the used car space, there are two alternative paths to choose from: used and Certified Pre-Owned. While some may argue that one is better than the other, there is no true superior option, as it all comes down to what you need. So what’s the difference between these two used car buying choices?

Well, Certified Pre-Owned vehicles are relatively new models. These vehicles have had previous owners, but were sent back to the manufacturer to be fully inspected and refurbished. These inspections that manufacturers perform are quite thorough, covering everything from the tires that the car rolls on to the infotainment display. Often referred to as a multi-point inspection, these manufacturer mechanics refresh used vehicles to look and feel practically brand new. However, due to their previous use, Certified Pre-Owned models often have a far lower price tag than new cars, and in some instances, you can purchase an additional warranty with said used vehicle. Certified Pre-Owned warranties provide additional protection for your vehicle, ensuring long-term reliability and peace of mind once you roll out of the dealership. While these warranties may increase the overall price of the purchase, they can go a long way in providing a truly top-notch ownership experience.

On the other hand, there are used vehicles that are often sold as-is from a used car dealership. While these kinds of vehicles can get a bad reputation for overall reliability, if you buy from a reputable dealership, you can end up with a car that you’ll absolutely love. Used models can be sold from anyone, though, so if you decide to purchase from a private dealer, it is wise to tread lightly. While there are plenty of great individual private dealers out there, few are able to perform the kind of comprehensive inspections and repairs that a more established dealer can provide.

So, which option is right for you, Certified Pre-Owned or used? This is a question that many car buyers ask themselves, and the answer more often than not can shift depending on your individual preference.

Certified Pre-Owned or Used?

A man in a white car is being handed keys.

At first glance, a Certified Pre-Owned vehicle might appear like the ideal fit. While a little more costly than your standard used car, Certified Pre-Owned vehicles can provide the kind of reliable drive that you can expect when buying new. However, one major thing to consider when purchasing a car, whether it be new, used, or Certified Pre-Owned is your budget. While the financial aspect of car buying may seem less than glamorous, it is crucial to your overall satisfaction. Proper budgeting beforehand can give you a solid idea of what kind of vehicles might be available to you; it can also help you avoid breaking the bank.

Although, pre-purchase budgeting isn’t the only thing you can be doing to improve your car buying experience. Within any dealership showroom, you’ll likely find plenty of models and body stylings ranging from beefy SUVs to compact sedans. Even if every vehicle in this showroom is a top-tier model of its class, it may not be the right fit for you and your needs. Every driver is different, and while some drivers may thrive in a truck designed for off-road performance, others may find greater satisfaction in something like a compact fuel-efficient hybrid. Picking out a car based on your own automotive preferences can also go a long way in helping you make the most of your car buying experience.

Finding the Car of Your Dreams

Buying a car isn’t easy, especially if you’re searching for something that’s used. That said, with the right steps and the right dealer, you can make the most out of your used car buying experience. From the first test drive to the last slip of financial paperwork, the entire car buying process can be an absolute thrill if you know how. And now that you have a bit of inside knowledge about the kinds of used vehicles out there for you, we hope that you can go out there and find the car of your dreams.

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