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10 STEPS TO BUYING A USED CAR

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Step 3: Find Your Car's Value

Used Vehicle from a Dealer
If you visit a large, reputable dealer with a brand franchise, there will likely be a variety of used vehicles for sale on the lot. Although not necessarily backed by the manufacturer, these vehicles may include an extended or "aftermarket" warranty or service program offered by the dealer. Because dealers offer warranties and service programs, the used cars they sell must be refurbished to meet warranty standards. In truth, most vehicles in the used inventory of a brand-franchised dealer will not have been taken in trades for new cars at that dealership, but will instead have been purchased at one of the numerous auctions where dealers buy and sell used cars to and from each other. This means that most used cars any dealership takes in trades will be sold at those auctions, and for a variety of reasons. Perhaps a vehicle isn't in good condition, or maybe it doesn't fit within the mix that dealership prefers for its used inventory. The truth is, most cars that get traded for something newer aren't in very good shape; that's why their owners are getting ride of them.

Pricing for retail cars at a dealership will vary, but because of the refurbishing a dealer must do to ready the car or truck for sale, the retail price of the used car will typically be more than a private party price.

Used Vehicle from a Private Party
It's unfortunate that in this day and age we must be wary of buying from individuals, but this is where the risk of used car buying is at its highest. Before arriving at the home of the private party seller, it is advisable to ask the seller a series of questions about the vehicle. Get as much information as possible on ownership history, mileage, maintenance upkeep and especially the condition of the car. Is there any body damage, even relatively small dents or dings? Is the exterior paint dull, chipped, scratched or peeling? Is the interior of the car stained, faded, cracked or torn? How does the car drive? Does the steering pull to one side or the other? Are the brakes working well? Do the tires have wear and do they match? Another very important question is this: Is the seller in possession of the title or certificate of ownership? One good way to protect yourself from buying an unsatisfactory car is to check the vehicle's history by requesting an AutoCheck Record check.

Used Online Buying
If you want to buy a used vehicle online, there are many used car buying sites, including eBay Motors, where you can search for the car you need and easily get in touch with the seller.

For private party purchase, online classifieds can greatly increase the quality of communication between you and the seller with photos, history, mileage and other vital facts that are clearly displayed on each vehicle entry. You can also apply online for an extended warranty on your used car for added security.

Certified Pre-Owned
Manufacturers' certified programs have taken much of the risk out of used car shopping by offering excellent warranties on very clean, refurbished used vehicles, called Certified Pre-Owned, or CPO. Only certain vehicles qualify for certification. Typically, the vehicle must be under five years old and have less than 75,000 miles on the odometer, although each manufacturer will have its own standards.

Manufacturers vary in how many points of the Certified Pre-Owned vehicles are checked or reconditioned, but most put a vehicle through a complete check of all major systems. Visit our Certified Pre-Owned section to familiarize yourself with the different certified programs and you will be better able to make a decision. Certification is actually done by the dealer and, since it costs the dealer money, expect to pay more for a certified used car.

For many buyers a Certified Pre-Owned vehicle represents the best deal in the industry. The vehicle will be in excellent condition, in most cases it includes additional warranty coverage, which can be quite extensive, and it may also be applicable to that manufacturer's financing programs. Since it will be a used car, that means the initial, and heavy, depreciation will have been taken by someone else - the first owner. You get a very clean used car, with the advantages of reduced depreciation and the peace-of-mind of some level of additional warranty coverage, which in many cases exceeds the original warranty. Unless you're the type of person who absolutely, positively needs a brand-new car, you will benefit tremendously by checking out a manufacturer's Certified Pre-Owned inventory, which can usually be done on-line through that manufacturer's website.
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