Used cars are a smart way to get to a nicer car for less money. You also avoid the anguish caused by depreciation. Often, three-year-old used vehicles are still covered under the manufacturer’s warranty. The advantages are many, the cost is low, but the task can be confusing. Check out our top used car buying tips and get yourself a sweet ride and a sweet deal.


Do all you can before you actually go and see the car. Research the makes and models that interest you and how much they sell for in your area. Look for specifics like features and mileage and compare costs. Look at reviews by car magazines too.


Once you have a shortlist, schedule back-to-back test drives. Check to see whether everything the seller claims is true. Get a vehicle history report from Carfax or AutoCheck and confirm the odometer reading, ownership history, accident history, and flood damage details.

Private Sellers

Cars from private sellers usually cost at least 10% less than those at dealers. Still, examine everything. If you do buy, ensure that they sign the title over to you. Insure the car before driving away as well. You’ll save money, but will have to work a little more.


Shopping from a dealer costs more but saves time. They have a range of cars on offer, are likely to clean and inspect the vehicle, and are governed by Federal Trade Commission rules and state and local regulations. Established businesses also have a reputation to uphold. Ask how warranties will be honored, and any required repairs will be made.


Certified pre-owned cars are premium used cars. But they are thoroughly inspected, have maintenance issues managed, and are usually in great condition. Check the inspection report to see what’s been done. You’ll also get the manufacturer’s warranty with a CPO.


Dealers usually offer hefty discounts on discontinued or slow-selling models to move them out quickly. You could even get a nearly new car for a great deal if it has been hanging around in the dealership for months.

Finally, put all the data together, bargain for a fair price, complete all paperwork, and enjoy your new, used car.