So, you?re looking at purchasing a used car. Sure you probably have a wish list with few models in mind, but which one to choose from? With oil prices soaring and the prices of everything on the rise with not nearly good enough pay increases, we all want to get the best for our money and be happy with the purchase made right? We all want reliability, low maintenance costs, safety, and above all great fuel economy. Is that too much to ask? The best way to accomplish all this is by being an informed buyer!
First we start with make and model. As stated above, you are looking for what fits you the best, personality, reliability, low maintenance costs, safety, and above all great fuel economy. You may have a few models in mind that are made by different manufacturers. There are websites that you can visit and compare more than one manufacturer all at the same time ( , , , carfax , ). My personal favorite site is . This site is not free, but it is inexpensive to join ($26 per year or $4.95 per month) and it is handy for researching many other consumer products than cars! These sites (as well as others out there) can provide you with invaluable groundwork to make a final decision on one model. Keep in mind that with brand new models, these sites will often have incomplete data as they have not received crash test data etc from government agencies etc.
After I decide what make and model I want to purchase I go to the manufacturers web page and do some research on available packages, as well as if they are planning on releasing a newer model in the near future. This can benefit you come purchase time as when a new body style of the same model is released, it drops the resale price of the previous generation of the vehicle by a bit. Every bit counts and you can score big on clearance sales, lease returns, etc if your timing is right.
The last thing to research before purchasing a new car is what dealer to purchase from (if you are looking at dealerships). This might take some leg work, as most of this research cannot be done online. You need to get a list of local dealerships and visit each one. This will allow you to observe the atmosphere of the dealership, and see how friendly/service oriented they are. See what kind of warranties they offer, just beware of some extended warranties as they require you to bring your vehicle to the dealership only for service, which can be a hassle etc. On the flip side, buying from a private seller has its advantages and disadvantages. Advantage: Often a lower price, more room to haggle, and less dealership type intimidation, no warranty (unless one is already purchased by private seller and is transferable). Disadvantage: Higher price due to dealer overhead costs, little or no room to haggle, Pay extra for extended warranty. As always the biggest disadvantage/gamble of purchasing a used car is its history. Unless you are lucky enough to stumble upon a used car that is owned by an immaculate owner who has service logs, and receipts of all the service ever done on the vehicle, is always a gamble. This is where a pre-check by your trusted mechanic can pay off, or the purchase of an extended warranty to cover any unknown problems that my crop up (and there always are!).
In this day and age, it is important to research products before you buy them. For those of use without millions of dollars to throw away on impulse purchases, we need to know we are getting what we pay for. There is nothing worse than purchasing a car only to have it have serious reliability issues or horrible safety ratings. Just because it looks good or goes fast, does not mean it?s reliable and/or safe! Research first = informed decision and ultimately the goal is getting your moneys worth when buying used.