Buying a used car always carries an inherent small risk as compared to buying new – but, then again, you will also save considerable money against the price of a brand-new model. As a general rule, you can often find great deals on cars that fall into the three-year-old bracket as finance deals tend to run for 36 months, at which point owners often trade up to a newer model. Also, at the three-year mark, a car will typically be half the price it was to buy new (although this can vary and be dependent on make, model and mileage).
Buying a car that’s three years old should also still give you plenty of use and reliability. Statistics suggest that most cars start developing more problems around the five-year mark and tend to need more repairs or replacement parts.
Buying online or staying local?
In recent years, there’s been a huge explosion in online car sales. Just like so many other areas of life, the internet has completely transformed the car market, and there are some great deals available online. Of course, buying online means you’ll be largely purchasing blind and will need to put your trust in the dealer, so always check reviews from other purchasers and ensure there’s an evaluation period where you can send the car back if it’s not up to scratch. On that subject, you’ll likely also have to factor in the cost of car shipping into the total price, which you can learn more about at
Considerations to remember when buying a used car
As a general guide, there are some rules you should follow to stop you from potentially buying a problematic or unreliable car:
Watch the market and be aware of prices: Before choosing a used car, you should do considerable research to work out standard market rates for the particular models that are of interest to you. Again, the internet can be invaluable in this process to give you the widest range of prices.
Study the paperwork: All used cars come with extensive paperwork which you should check thoroughly to ascertain the vehicle’s history. You should also make sure the paperwork pertains to the particular car you’re buying and also study receipts for service history and replacements, etc.
Check the car in good light: Poor light or street lighting can do a great job of hiding problems with the bodywork of a car, so be sure to inspect the car in good weather during the day. Clearly, this isn’t possible when buying the car online but, if you have made a purchase over the internet, be sure to thoroughly inspect it the minute it’s delivered. You should also check things like the electrics, air conditioning, etc.
Take the car for a test drive: Again, not possible to do beforehand if you’re buying online but, ideally, you should take the car for a full test drive to check everything runs as it should. Watch out for steering that pulls to the side, cars that have problems starting, any strange noises (particularly when changing gears), smoke coming out of the exhaust, and other problematic issues.