Category Archives: used car

How many miles are too much for a used car?

Should I buy a car with high mileage? How many miles are too much?

high mileage carsWe frequently hear these questions from people looking for used cars for sale.

Generally, 15,000 miles a year is considered an “average” number of miles per year. So a car that is 5 years old would have about 75,000 miles to be considered “average.” Anything significantly more, and a car is considered to be “high mileage.” Anything significantly less, and it’s a “low mileage” car.

What does it mean if a car has high mileage?

Does it mean you should avoid cars with “high” mileage? Or that low mileage is always better?

Are cars with high mileage a bigger risk? Will they break down sooner?

Not necessarily, to all these questions.

In the last decade or so cars have become much more reliable than years ago when a car was looked at as junk when it reached 100,000 miles. Not so anymore.

Many modern cars with 100K-150K miles are in great condition and will easily go another 100K.

However, if a car has not been maintained properly and has been driven hard or previously wrecked, it can be junk with only 30K miles on the odometer.

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Buying a Used Car – Pros and Cons

Most people know that buying a used car is smarter than buying a brand new car.

But is that always true?

A used car can certainly save money, but at higher risk.

Most cars depreciate rapidly in the first 3-5 years, losing 50% or more of their original value, even those in near perfect condition.  Furthermore, car manufacturers only make major style changes every 4-5 years.

This means you can pick up a relatively new used car for about half the cost of a brand new model and still get essentially the same styling.

It’s also possible to find used cars that are 10 years old or older that are in excellent condition, and make excellent buys.

Sounds great but what’s the catch?

A used car is — well — used, previously owned and driven.  Those other owners may have driven the car sensibly, or not. They may have taken good care of it and maintained it as recommended by the manufacturer, or not. They may have damaged it and had it repaired by professionals, or not.  They may have driven excessive miles, or not.

A car is a mechanical machine and all mechanical machines suffer wear and tear with use.  They can have problems, some serious, some not.

Some makes and models tend to have more problems than others. Consumer Reports magazine, in the annual Auto Issue, publishes the results of a survey of thousands of car owners. It rates and ranks each model according to number and type of reported problems.

Furthermore, every used car is different. No two are alike. One can be a jewel that has low mileage, has been driven and maintained properly, and never wrecked. Another of the same make, model, and year can be junk with hidden problems, excessive wear, and poorly repaired damages.

What does this mean to a used car buyer?

Of all the possible issues that might prevent one from buying a used car, only a few are obvious to an average buyer.

It’s not obvious how a car has been driven or maintained by a previous owner — or owners. It’s not obvious that it might have been wrecked. It’s not obvious that it might have had reliability problems in the past, and will continue to do so. It’s not obvious why the previous owner is getting rid of his car. It’s not obvious that there might still be an outstanding lien.

The two major things that most buyers first focus on are 1) appearance condition, and 2) mileage.

First, appearance can be deceiving. There can be hidden problems not apparent to the eye.  Second, mileage is not a good indicator of a car’s condition.  A car with high mileage can be a good car, just as one with low miles can be terrible.

Many buyers look at Carfax or AutoCheck vehicle history reports as a way of researching a used car purchase. However, these reports are often inaccurate and incomplete, and don’t say anything about a car’s all important current condition.

What to do?

Although it’s possible to make some determination of a used car’s condition by asking the owner or dealer questions, test driving, and doing a cursory inspection; this is generally not sufficient.

The best way to know the actual mechanical condition and future reliability of a used car is to have it inspected by your own professional mechanic before you buy.

He can give you a detailed problem report that you can use to make a decision about buying. It can cost $75-$150 but is worth it if it prevents you from making a big mistake.

Let’s sum it up.

Buying a used car is much different from buying a brand new car that has never been driven, has no problems (usually), has never been wrecked, and has full warranty protection from the manufacturer.

There is more risk when buying used, which means a buyer must take more care and expend more time and effort in making a good decision. If done correctly, it can result in getting a great car for a great price.

What to Ask When Buying a Car

Car buying questionsWe’ve heard the question asked hundreds of times: “I’m buying a car. What questions should I ask?”

The answer is different depending on where you intend to buy your car — used car from an individual seller, used car from a dealer, or new car from a dealer.

Let’s look at each situation.

Questions when buying a used car from an individual

Important questions to ask when buying a car from a private seller:

  1. What is the car’s make, model, year, and mileage?
  2. Are you the original owner?
  3. Has the car ever been wrecked or seriously damaged?
  4. What problems does the car have now?
  5. Have you made recent repairs? For what?
  6. How does it drive?
  7. Are you the owner of the vehicle?
  8. Do you have the title?
  9. Is yours the name on the title?
  10. May I see the title?
  11. May I test drive the car?
  12. May I have my own mechanic check it out?

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Used Car Advisor – Real Car Tips and Advice

A Guide to Buying Cars — Tips, Tricks, & Expert Advice — For Smart Buyers

used car advisorBuying a pre-owned used car can be tricky, especially if you are not a “car person” or don’t have a wealth of past experience.

It’s different from buying a brand new car from a new-car dealer in that used cars can come from individual sellers, small independent dealers, large national dealers, public auto auctions, government auctions, repossession sales, and even from scammers.

Since new cars depreciate in value so quickly, buying a used car will allow you to take the advantage and buy cheaper, after much of the depreciation has already taken place.

However, since used cars have been previously owned, there are potential problems and risks that depend on a vehicle’s age, mileage, condition, and accident history.

There are steps that should be taken to help avoid these kinds of problems when buying a used car.

  • How and where to find reliable used cars
  • How to know what to pay for a used car
  • How to find and negotiate the best used car deals
  • Warnings about used car scams
  • Used cars to avoid
  • How to finance and pay for a used car purchase
  • How to trade a used car if you still have a loan
  • What happens after a used car purchase

We answer all these questions and more on this website.

We’ll help you choose the right car, show you how to avoid problems, find and negotiate the best deals, steer clear of common car scams and dealer tricks. We’ll also tell you how to find cheap insurance, buy extended warranties, and the best way to finance your purchase. We also provide a handy easy-to-use online car loan calculator.

And much more ….

Car Auctions for Good Cheap Cars

Public Car Auctions, Government Auctions, Police Auctions, Repo Auctions, and Salvage Auctions

used car auctionsCar buyers who are looking for cheap cars often overlook public car auctions, or dismiss them because they think the auctions are only for car dealers.

It’s true that there are dealer-only auctions, but there are also many car auctions open to the public that provide an opportunity to pick up good used cars for good prices — if you know where to look and know how the auction process works.

What kinds of car auctions are open to the public?

  • Public wholesale car auctions
  • Government surplus auctions
  • Police and law enforcement seized car auctions
  • Unclaimed and abandoned vehicle auctions
  • Repossessed vehicle auctions
  • Salvage vehicle auctions
  • Public wholesale auctions

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Best Used Car Web Sites – Recommendations

Best Places to Find Used Cars Online

used cars onlineOne of the best — and easiest — places to find cars for sale is online — on web sites that specialize in listing pre-owned vehicles.

Online used car web sites fall into three categories: 1) Non-dealer sites that sell cars listed by private sellers, 2) sites that only sell dealer cars, or 3) those that sell cars listed by both.

Actually, many of the so-called non-dealer sites actually have dealer cars, thinly disguised as private-seller cars.

Web sites with Cars from Private-Party Individual Sellers

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of classified-ad web sites that advertise used cars for sale by individuals. Here are reviews of some of the most popular sites:

Continue reading Best Used Car Web Sites – Recommendations

High Mileage Car – Good or Bad?

Is It Smart to Buy a Car with High Mileage? Good or Bad?

high mileage used carWhen shopping for a used car, you might find a car you like that appears to be in great condition but has what seems to be high mileage.

Since about 15,000 miles a years is average for most cars, anything significantly more than that is considered high mileage. So, for a car that is, say, 6 years old, it should have about 90,000 miles to be considered as “average.”

However, just because a car has an average number of miles — or less —  doesn’t mean it’s worth buying. It could easily have serious problems if it has been driven roughly and not properly maintained, or has been wrecked and poorly repaired.

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How to Negotiate a Car Deal – Explained

Tips for Negotiating a Used Car Purchase

car deal negotiationBuying and negotiating a car deal is one of those things in life that most people don’t look forward to — because it’s often stressful and, at best, unpleasant.

Car buyers know that they should always negotiate and haggle for the best price but nobody (except car dealers) do it every day and it’s not a skill that we all possess or get to practice very often.

Besides, the rules change from time to time.

First, let’s understand what we’re up against when buying a used car, either from a dealer or from an individual seller.

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How to Sell a Used Car – Explained

What is the best and fastest way to sell a car?

how to sell used carIf you are selling a used car you should take the necessary steps that will allow you sell at the highest possible price while avoiding issues with buyers and paperwork.

We take you through the process so that your efforts will be successful and you’ll avoid common problems.

Prepare your car for sale

Used car dealers know that if they clean up their vehicles inside and out, they can sell for higher prices. You can use the same technique when selling your own car.

You may find that you can easily recover the cost of replacing worn tires, for example, and make your car sell faster. You should touch up paint scratches. Repair windshield dings. Pull out small dents. Balance the tires. Get a tune-up and oil change.

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What is a good used car?

How to choose the best used car for you and your budget

how to find best used carWhat car is best?

What car is most reliable?

Which car should I buy?

We see these questions frequently, usually from first-time buyers who have no experience in buying cars. They want to know which cars they should be considering, and which they should be avoiding, and why.

Of course, as might be expected, there is no single answer because different buyers have different needs and tastes, and there are many different cars that might work for them.  However, we’ll try to provide some important suggestions that will make the decision much easier and less stressful.

Continue reading What is a good used car?