Thinking of Buying Used? Consider What Matters Most
Thinking of buying one of the many used cars in MD? Before you make your move, you need to consider what matters most to you, and what you’re looking to get out of your used car purchase. After all, the used car buying process is a little different compared to buying a new car. For starters, you have many more options, which means you have many more decisions to make. Not only could you potentially buy a model that went out of style years ago, but you can get used cars that have different packages tacked on, different trim levels, and even custom or unique features, such as a particular paint job. Then, you need to think about what you’re looking to get out of a used car. Is quality and getting the best value for your dollar all you care about? Or are you just looking for a beater to drive around for a year? Or, maybe it’s a more up-to-date experience when it comes to technology and safety.
These are only a few examples of the type of questions you need to consider before making a move in the used car market, and there are plenty more you can dream up to ask yourself, I’m sure.
Remember, You Have More Options
In a nutshell, you need to ask what’s best for you, and what you’re looking to get out of your used car. Buying a new car is easy: you walk into the dealership, and take a look at around five or six of the hottest models from that brand. Select what trim you want, maybe an optional package or two, slap a down payment on the table, sign the contract, and drive off the lot with your new car.
While the financial process of buying a used car at a dealership is similar to that of a new car, you’re going to have an entirely different shopping experience. Sure, all the familiar models are there from recognizable and beloved brands — but now there’s about nine different model years to choose from. Also, you have to consider how much you’re willing to spend on a used car. Is it going to be a $2,000 vehicle, or are you getting a certified pre-owned (CPO) vehicle that’s only a year old for a competitive price? Is it worth getting top-of-the-line insurance? Or are you just going to get basic coverage, since it would be foolish in your eyes to pay for insurance over the course of a year that costs just as much (or more) than the used car you’re considering?
Start with cost, and how much you’re willing to spend. This will help narrow down the seemingly endless amount of options presented to you. Because, there is truly a wide array of used vehicles set at different prices and in different conditions. Then, start asking yourself questions that relate to what you’re looking to get out of this purchase, like “do I value quality above all else?”
Do you Value Quality?
If the answer to this question is yes — and price isn’t a factor — then you’ll want to grab one of those certified pre-owned (CPO) vehicles I mentioned earlier.
CPOs are a way to get the best of both worlds — you get a used vehicle that’s cheaper than the cost of the current model, but still has a new-car like feel thanks to the certification process it goes through. Typically, these vehicles will be under 75,000 miles, and within six model years old. Why is it the best option for value? Because, if you buy a CPO vehicle that’s from 2011, you’ll be avoiding the first five years of depreciation. If it’s a luxury model, this equates to even more value for your dollar since these vehicles lose their value faster-than-average during the first five years of ownership.
Furthermore, while you’re dishing out more cash than you would on a model from the ‘90s, you’ll be getting one that has closer to the latest materials, performance, technology, safety, etc. It’s one of the rare cases in the car world where spending more money on a CPO vehicle, compared to a non-certified version, translates to getting better value.
Are you Looking for a Quick Fix for a Year?
But, maybe your new car just died and you’re in a bit of financial trouble. You know you’ll be back on your feet in a year or so because you’re the type of person who bounces back. In that case, you might be looking for a used vehicle that’s as cheap as possible, is still reliable, but allows you to save money over the course of the year. That way, you can eventually buy a new model.
Yes, these vehicles do exist. While they are slightly rarer, it is possible to find a vehicle at a cheap price from Craigslist or off a used car dealer’s lot that will reliably get you through the year. I can personally attest to this, since I spent $500 on a ’99 Crown Victoria that lasted me for two years, and all I had to do was replace the alternator once.
This is also a great option if you want to work on your own vehicle, and you don’t mind buying something that isn’t perfect. You could very easily get a $1,000 beater from a dealership, and then take the money you would have spent on a $5,000 used car and bank it for parts. Since you’ll be working on it yourself, you’ll save money on labor costs as well. For some, this is a very appealing option. And if you get a car like the Crown Victoria I bought, you’ll have all sorts of extra money saved up.
Is “Updated” Technology a Priority?
If you want to get the latest technology possible, then buy a vehicle that’s a model year old. CPO or not (although it will most likely be one), you’ll avoid that initial 20% hit in depreciation the average vehicle incurs. At the same time, you’ll get technology that’s only a year old, with very minimal difference in form or function. If you shop Chevy, for example, you’d get a vehicle from 2015 that only supports Android Auto; whereas, an updated 2016 MyLink system supports both Android and Apple users. Likely not a big deal in the grand scheme of used car shopping. Apart from technology, you’ll also be getting closer to cutting-edge safety features as well.
Remember: you have options when it comes to buying used cars. When first deciding on what to buy, let finances dictate what you can and can’t afford. Then, once you can figure out an affordable price range, ask yourself questions like the ones I covered above. If you follow this procedure, you’ll end up with a used car that you’re perfectly content to drive.