Buying used cars can feel like playing the lottery and the odds aren't in your favor yet. Because when the new car warranty runs out and the miles and miles from commutes and road trips start to add up, all that wear and tear will mean car parts need to be replaced and repair bills will start to get more expensive. But fear not, the experts at Car and Driver are ready to help buyers better navigate the large and dangerous used car market. We will provide our recommendations on the most reliable models out there and advise on the purchase of a certified used or used vehicle.
The other trick is to keep your fair market price in the back of your mind. Remember all that research you did at Edmunds and KBB? Use it to your advantage. Start slightly below the fair market price and work your way up from there. It's also worth playing different croupiers against each other.
Never put your price first, make the seller work to start the negotiation and always keep the maximum price in mind. Remember that every penny comes out of your pocket. If you decide to buy, go to the seller and inspect the vehicle. Take a friend and meet in a neutral high-traffic area; some jurisdictions allow transactions in the local police department parking lot.
If the seller refuses to meet somewhere safe, consider that a warning and move on. If possible, ask a mechanic to inspect a used car before completing the transaction. Contact your dealer or retailer to see if you can get the VIN number for the specific vehicle you're interested in. But it doesn't have to be stressful, especially if you've done your research and have a good idea of what the car you want is worth.
Have the dealer run the Carfax or AutoCheck, or do it yourself for a small fee to see what the history of the car has been. Also keep in mind that you have a limited amount of time to complete the transaction and transfer your used car title. In general, car dealerships are much better at selling cars than you are at buying, so as a buyer, you generally find yourself at a disadvantage. These sites will also give you a good idea of what kind of specific options you should look for in the car you are aiming for.
Hertz sells nearly 200,000 bankrupt cars, and it doesn't take a lot of money to land on a near-new car. This covers all the parts that make the car drivable, such as the engine, transmission, and suspension. Also, if you buy from a dealership, there are certified used cars for sale and there are regular used cars. Once you've taken possession of the car, you'll also need to include it in your insurance (even before you have the title in hand).
The reports are reasonably accurate and will at least inform the buyer if the car was damaged in an accident and the mileage recorded in the last transaction. Ideally, the seller has no remaining loans for the car they are buying and the title can be transferred seamlessly. Northeast cars can have rust problems due to salt and sand applied to roads in winter.