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Archipp Drozdov
Archipp Drozdov

How Does Buying A Used Car Work


With our used car rankings, shoppers can compare pre-owned vehicles by their overall scores and individual factors car buyers tell us are critical to their buying decisions. These factors include predicted reliability, safety, performance, and interior comfort and features.




how does buying a used car work



Not sure if you want to take the leap into a used car with no warranty coverage? There is a used car option that does have factory warranty coverage. Manufacturer-certified pre-owned cars (CPO cars) offer a blend of used-car affordability with manufacturer-backed warranty coverage. They're usually low-mileage cars that are just a few years old, with service records and no history of accidents. They are often cars returned at the end of leases, dealership service loaner vehicles, or vehicles driven by dealer or automaker staff.


You might think you have to go to a brick-and-mortar bank branch to get a car loan, but there are many places you can finance a used car. Some work better with different types of borrowers than others, so you should talk to several before you decide which financing deal is best for you. Some lenders have programs that provide lower rates or other benefits to existing customers, while others cater to borrowers with damaged credit. You can save money and hassle by taking advantage of these programs.


Community banks offer many of the same auto-lending services as large banks, but they do so with a smaller geographic footprint, fewer branches, and often a more personal touch. Like credit unions, community banks are great places for borrowers who need a bit more help to finance their used car purchase successfully. With their roots in the communities they serve, many will be able to offer tips about other businesses in the area that can help you through the car-buying process.


Just as smart buyers should talk to multiple car dealerships and other sellers before buying a used car, you should apply at multiple lenders to find the best financing deal. It's critical to do so during a short span of time, so the credit reporting agencies don't think you're taking out multiple loans and ding your credit score over and over. Do your shopping over a week or so, and they'll just see it as one transaction. That's important, because each transaction that pulls a credit report lowers your credit score by a few points.


When it comes to used car dealerships, national or regional used car superstores are the new kids on the block. They offer many of the same advantages of franchised new car dealerships, such as expertise in handling paperwork, step-by-step buying processes, and access to an array of lenders. Many sell their own line of add-on products, such as extended warranties valid at any of their locations.


Independent used car dealerships are typically small, locally owned businesses. They buy and sell used vehicles, arrange financing, and take care of the purchase paperwork. Their inventory typically comes from wholesale auto auctions. Most don't have service departments and have less total overhead than a typical new car dealer.


Maintenance and Service History: A car that a seller can show was properly maintained is worth more than one without any service records. You can get a sense of its maintenance history with the information included in a vehicle history report. You'll also want to get copies of the vehicle's service history from the seller, and have the mechanic who does your pre-purchase inspection assess the quality of the work.


Evaluating a used car means using all of your senses (except maybe taste, because that would be gross). It should also include your sense of intuition, which will help you determine if something doesn't seem right.


Taking a test drive is one of the most critical tasks in buying a used car. However, the rules have changed due to the coronavirus pandemic. You need to place your personal safety above all else. You should insist on taking your test drive solo. If the seller refuses, either walk away, or set strict ground rules about mask-wearing, drive with the windows down, and ask them to sit as far away as possible.


A great test drive may have you ready to write a check and drive the car home right away. However, there's another critical step you have to complete before you decide to buy. With just one exception, you should not buy a used car without a comprehensive pre-purchase inspection by an independent mechanic. The only exception would be if you're buying a relatively new certified used car with factory warranty coverage from a franchised new-car dealership.


Some used car sellers, such as Carvana, are simplifying the car-buying experience by eliminating last-minute fees and pivoting to a no-haggle sales process. The car's advertised price is not negotiable, and no dealer or documentation fees are added to the purchase price.


A guiding principle we follow at U.S. News & World Report is that you can't get a good deal unless you're getting a good car. That's why we've designed our new car reviews to answer the questions shoppers have when they're in the car-buying market. Our new car rankings and reviews are based on the country's top automotive journalists' consensus opinion, blended with quantifiable information about safety, predicted reliability, and other factors. Our used cars rankings add the cost of ownership to the list of factors we include. We don't accept expensive gifts or travel from automakers so that you can be assured of our impartiality.


Because of car depreciation, purchasing a 3-year-old vehicle for significantly less than the same model new is possible. At a time when consumers pay an average of $48,300 for a new car, buying used can mean significant savings.


When buying used, we encourage Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) vehicles. CPO cars go through a rigorous examination process by a dealership and must meet certain parameters for things like their condition. Certified cars are backed by warranties. Before selling, dealerships service and detail vehicle inside and out. The idea is that a CPO car looks and performs as well or almost as good as a brand new one.


If the dealer can offer you a better deal, that works. But getting pre-approved for a loan before shopping at a dealership online or in person gives you more flexibility and does not make you beholden to just one sales lot or dealership. It also gives you the upper hand when the deal-making starts.


If you like to haggle, by all means, you can try. But also be respectful and understand nobody wants a complete lowball offer, especially in this tighter market for older, used cars. If you hate dealing, you might be more comfortable buying from a dealer whose prices are pretty much set.


"The single best advice I can give to people is to get preapproved for a car loan from your bank, a credit union or an online lender," says Philip Reed. He's the autos editor at the personal finance site NerdWallet. He also worked undercover at an auto dealership to learn the secrets of the business when he worked for the car-buying site Edmunds.com. So Reed is going to pull back the curtain on the car-buying game.


"We're actually living in a golden age of used cars," says Reed. "I mean, the reliability of used cars is remarkable these days." Reed says there is an endless river of cars coming off three-year leases that are in very good shape. And even cars that are older than that, he says, are definitely worth considering. "You know, people are buying good used cars at a hundred-thousand miles and driving them for another hundred-thousand miles," says Reed. "So I'm a big fan of buying a used car as a way to save money."


Buying used has not been immune to the price increase. The monthly payment for a used vehicle in the fourth quarter of 2022 was $526, according to Experian. But buying used is still less expensive than buying new. So as you explore your car-buying options, keep these tips in mind to get the best deal.


One way to get around some of the risks of buying used is to shop for a certified pre-owned (CPO) vehicle. Typically found at dealerships and rental companies, these vehicles are specially inspected and approved by the manufacturer.


The price of used cars has increased by a lot recently and even some dealerships are buying used cars in private sales, so you may have the option to sell the car yourself. You could try to sell it to another person or to a dealership in a private sale. If you can sell the car for more than what you owe on it, this may be your best choice. Then you can pay the loan off.


New York State's new and used car lemon laws provide legal remedies for consumers who buy or lease cars. If a car does not live up to the written warranty and cannot be repaired - or if it has not been repaired correctly after a reasonable number of attempts - the consumer could receive a refund or replacement car.


In addition, it is important to remember that you always have the right to shop and compare when making any purchase, especially when buying an item as costly as a new or used vehicle. You will find the process much easier if you understand that you can shop and compare not only for your local auto dealers, but also your financing and warranty services as well.


A thorough test drive and mechanical inspection are the only ways to make sure the vehicle you are contemplating buying is in good mechanical condition. Verbal representations about the vehicle by a salesperson are not necessarily binding promises to help you with any problems that develop. Many quality dealers will stand behind vehicles they sell and will work to solve problems, but a buyer should not expect that the dealer will always solve every problem. If you buy it "as is," and it is defective, you cannot always expect the dealer to fix it.


If you purchase a service contract on a used vehicle from the same dealer within 90 days of purchase, the implied warranty of merchantability cannot be waived, and you will have the protection of both the service contract and the implied warranty of merchantability (RCW 48.96.045(4)). The availability of the implied warranty or a service contract does not eliminate the need for a thorough test drive and an inspection by a qualified mechanic. 041b061a72


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