Q: What is a Second-Hand Car?

December 17, 2013 12:53 PM

Share this article

A second-hand car is a car that someone else owned before offering it for sale to another owner. Buying a second-hand car can save you money as long as the used car you buy is in good condition and can continue to run in good working order for several years after.

You can buy a second-hand car directly from its owner or from a dealer. Used cars are also available through Internet auctions and online dealers. Before you buy a used car, you should be aware of its approximate retail value. The Blue Book value of a car is its retail value as determined by prices at which similar cars sell. Use KBB.com to obtain the Blue Book value of any used car.

The Blue Book value is only one factor to consider when you want to buy a used car. You'll also want to check its repair and maintenance history. Begin by finding out whether the make and model you are considering is mechanically reliable. Online and print consumer publications, as well as specialized car ratings sites, provide information about the reliability of used cars. Once you decide that the make and model you are considering is reliable enough, get the maintenance and repair record for the specific car you want to buy. You can get this from the owner or dealer, or you can ask the owner where he had his car serviced and request repair records from the service center. Beware of cars that have been in accidents or have undergone major repairs. Accident damage is difficult to repair. A car that has undergone major or overly frequent repairs may be a lemon that will constantly need additional repair work.

One way to protect against the cost of future second-hand car repairs is to buy a car warranty from the car manufacturer, a dealer or a third party. Some car manufacturers offer certified pre-owned cars, which are used cars that the dealer has inspected and brought up to certification standards laid out by the manufacturer, and these cars include manufacturer warranties. Certified pre-owned car warranties provide coverage for repairs during the term of the warranty, and dealers that offer certified pre-owned cars select only cars that are likely to be mechanically reliable. Some dealers offer car warranties for second-hand cars, and there are reliable third-party car warranty companies that specialize in warranties for used cars. In fact, a third-party warranty company may actually issue a dealer's warranty, so make sure you know who really stands behind your warranty. Check the Better Business Bureau website to verify the reputation of any third-party warranty company.

Buying a reliable second-hand car can save you quite a bit of money. A new car loses its value very quickly, so the price of even a well-maintained recent-model used car is substantially lower than that of a new car. You'll be able to predict your maintenance expenses when you properly research the records for the make and model of car you wish to buy, as well as for each particular car you are considering.

Share this article
New Car Spotlight


Thanks for Supporting
Kelley Blue Book.
We deliver up-to-date car values, expert reviews and unbiased reporting at no
cost to you. To do this, we display ads from only trusted partners.

To continue on our site, simply turn off your ad blocker and refresh the page.