Car Buyer Labs

Car Buying Advice, Tips, and Reviews

A row of used cars at a used car dealership near me is shown.

What to Expect at a Used Car Dealership Near You

Finding the right used car can be a daunting process. From inspections to vehicle history reports and everything in-between, it can be harder to settle on a pre-owned model than it is to find a new one. Luckily, we are here to help! Start things off by narrowing down what kind of vehicle you are interested in at the used car dealership near you. From this point, you can check out what is available in your area, what models might work for you, and what you really need in a vehicle. Want to know what else to expect at a used car dealership? Keep reading!

Used Cars

Every dealership has a used vehicle section. These models can range from cars and trucks to SUVs and vans. You might even find hybrids and electric models amongst the bunch. Of course, all of these vehicles will be available at a heavily discounted price, given that they are pre-owned.

Have you ever heard the phrase, “Once you drive it off the lot, you lose $10,000?” That’s true for many new vehicles. What that means for people looking to buy used vehicles is that they can find models that are like-new and in great condition for a fraction of the original sticker price. That goes for 2019 and 2020 used vehicles as well. So, you can get all of the latest tech and safety features at a much lowest price point.

Certified Pre-Owned Cars

A woman is looking at the interior of a white used car next to a salesman.

At this point, you’re probably asking why anyone would trade-in a 2019 or 2020 vehicle so quickly. It must be a lemon, right? Not necessarily. Sometimes unforeseen circumstances cause people to get rid of their new vehicles, or they leased the model and traded it in for the newest model year. That’s why dealerships love the CPO title. CPO stands for Certified Pre-Owned. It means that the used vehicle has gone through a rigorous inspection process to ensure that everything is working properly and in like-new condition.

CPO models are generally younger than five years and have lower mileage readings on the odometer. They also tend to be more expensive than the average used vehicle. This is due to the inspection process and the extended warranty that each CPO vehicle comes with. Every inspection is different depending on the brand, and every warranty is a bit different as well. One size does not fit all. However, what we can tell you is that most CPO vehicle inspections cover well over 100 components, and most of the warranties are an extension of the original factory warranty. Some may also add roadside assistance and complimentary maintenance. It all depends on the dealership and, more importantly, the brand.

Used Cars Under $10,000

If you are on a tight budget and don’t want to spend the extra cash for a CPO vehicle, you can always find used vehicles that are under $10,000. These are usually over five years old, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. For example, it’s not hard to find a 2013 Honda Civic that still has advanced technology such as Bluetooth phone/audio connectivity. You could even get one with a sunroof! When it comes to older pre-owned vehicles, the production year has more influence over the price tag than the trim level does.

Also, keep in mind that cars and SUVs tend to be more affordable than trucks and vans. Popular used vehicles that you can find on most dealership lots include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • 2008 Toyota Tundra
  • 2011 Ford Focus
  • 2011 Cadillac CTS
  • 2012 Toyota Camry
  • 2012 Chevrolet Malibu
  • 2013 Honda Civic
  • 2013 Toyota Prius
  • 2014 Jeep Patriot

What You Should Ask

A couple is talking to a salesman with a clipboard.

If you are ready to buy a used vehicle, there are a few things you need to ask before sealing the deal. First, you need to get a vehicle history report for the model you are interested in. Even if it’s a CPO vehicle, you still need to examine the report. A vehicle history report will tell you if the vehicle has ever been in an accident, had after-market parts installed, been stolen and returned, and even if it was salvaged. Detailing can work wonders on a vehicle, and the shiny exterior might fool some folk. But it doesn’t fool us! You need to be aware of any past issues that might cause problems for you later on. While some may be minor, you still need to be aware of them.

The second thing you need to ask is for is an inspection by someone you trust. Even if the vehicle has already gone through the CPO inspection process, it is your right to bring in your mechanic to check everything out. One reason you might want to do this is that they can give you more information on any wear and tear that the vehicle has. Most CPO inspections only check to see if various components fall within a reasonable range of wear and tear. However, the inspection will not specify where in that range the vehicle falls. For example, the brake pads may have gotten the green light from the manufacturer inspector, but they could be just a few weeks away from needing to be replaced. Getting a second opinion from a mechanic you trust will give you answers like when the brake pads will need to be addressed in the future. You can take future repair costs into consideration after you’ve discussed them with your trusted mechanic.

The third thing you need to ask about is the warranty. CPO vehicles come with an extended warranty, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that other used models have no warranty coverage at all. Some may be young enough to still be covered by the original factory warranty. Just be sure to ask about that before you sign any papers. You might also be able to buy an extended warranty at a discounted rate.

Finally, you need to wrap things up by asking about routine maintenance. Some used car dealerships will provide complimentary maintenance for at least the first oil change. It’s no secret that taking the vehicle back to the dealership you got it from for maintenance is a good idea. The car came from their lot, and they are familiar with it.

Finding the Perfect Used Vehicle

Now that you understand what to expect from shopping at a used car dealership, you are just about ready to venture off on your own. There’s just one more thing we want to touch on before you go. Always, and we really mean always, take the vehicle out for a test drive before you make a deal. This goes for CPO vehicles as well. A thorough test drive will give you a chance to get a good feel of the vehicle and listen for any potential mechanical problems. Once you’ve taken the vehicle for a spin, you can begin negotiations with more confidence and leave with a smile on your face.