There now exists many ways for you to purchase a used car. There are the classic certified pre-owned cars, cars sold through the internet’s car superstores, and even car auctions that you didn’t know existed.
The first and the most common – and also generally more expensive – choice is buying certified pre-owned vehicles. Certified pre-owned (CPO) vehicles are used cars that have been inspected, refurbished and certified by a manufacturer or other authority, thereby providing the consumer with more confidence regarding the vehicle’s condition. These cars usually include an extended warranty and often special financing offers, providing new car benefits at used car prices.
Most dealers advertise CPO vehicles and may even devote an entire lot to these types of cars. CPOs are typically more expensive than non-certified used cars, but often the benefits (such as the extended warranty) outweigh the extra costs.
Before deciding on a certified pre-owned car, keep in mind the pros and cons of such a decision. It is good to know that factory-certified pre-owned means peace of mind. With the inspection, repairs and warranty, you’ve saved the time it would have taken to find or do those things yourself.
However, the big con is that though it may save you time, you could probably get those things done yourself for less money. Plus, even when a car is certified, there is no guarantee it will be trouble-free, so you should still pay the money to have your mechanic inspect it as needed. Then again, if something is found, you should be able to get the dealer to make the repair.
As with any used car, you avoid the high, up-front 20 to 40 percent depreciation cost the original new-car buyer suffered in the first two to three years of ownership. The problem is that though you avoid new-car depreciation, you now have to deal with the traditional used-car wear, tear and higher mileage that new-car buyers don’t have to put up with.
Lastly, there are different types of certified cars: ones that are certified by the factory and ones that are certified by the dealer. Understanding the differences can help you make your decision.
Factory-certified cars typically represent your best deal. Factory-certified means the vehicle has been inspected, needed repairs have been made and the car has been supported by factory warranty. On the other hand, with a dealer-certified used car, there is a high chance that it didn’t get the multipoint inspection or the series of repairs that the factory-certified car did. Also, these cars won’t have a warranty backed by the factory, so if you want a warranty, you have to buy an extended one through the dealer or an insurance company.
Government auctions could be really good for you, but only if you know how to find one. Thousands of seized, surplus and forfeited cars each month are sold at online and live auction venues. These vehicles are the property of the federal government, and due to the high costs associated with storage, they must be sold quickly at appealing prices. No financing is offered, and buyers must be able to pay for the item using cash, a bank cashier’s check, a money order, traveler’s checks, a personal or company check that is accompanied by a bank letter of guarantee, or by credit card.
The main advantages of buying a car through used car auctions depend on the price flexibility and the volume of selection. The reason most consumers consider an auction is the potential of finding a used car at a very good price. The prices at an auction aren’t usually available elsewhere. Retailers can’t compete with auction prices, so you could potentially find a well-conditioned car at a greatly reduced price.
Another big pro is the huge variety of the cars offered. Auctions are available across the United States each week, usually with hundreds of cars for sale. Even if you do not find the vehicle that you hoped for, you may find one better or might choose to wait a week or a month, until the exact model that you’re looking for becomes available.
However, auctions still have disadvantages. Cars sold through auctions, for example, are in an “as is” condition. After the bidding is done, the vehicle belongs to you — no ifs, ands or buts. Auction cars do not come with warranties of any sort or any kind of buy-back guarantee. You are taking a chance that the vehicle you desire is well-conditioned. If the motor blows as you pull away from the auction, it’s your problem. There is no looking back with auctions.
Also, legal issues could be a big concern. Another reason the car may be available at the auction could be because of a repossession or a confiscation. the problem with a confiscated car is that the owner might have rigged the car for less-than-legal purposes, and the car could be essentially worthless. There is also a possibility that the car you are acquiring is stolen or has been illegally smuggled into the country. So, titling the car may prove to be difficult in the future.
If you want to pursue this type of used car purchase, you have to research first. One big problem with car auctions is that you can be scammed if you’re not careful. As such, it’s best if you look at guides through the internet on how to buy car at auctions, how to judge a potential scam and how to get the best deal out of it. Japan Car Auction Academy, for example, offers a lot of information about car auctions and why Japanese-made cars are the best “used-cars” to purchase.
Of course, there’s the online superstores. They might be the easiest place to go to, because each car website offers a different deal from another. For example, used car superstore CarMax is a Fortune 500 company that offers thousands of vehicles for sale through its 100+ locations nationwide.
Consumers can search for vehicles by make, vehicle type, model and price, features and miles per gallon on the CarMax website. CarMax offers its buyers a five-day money-back guarantee, a limited 30-day warranty, extended service plans and free vehicle history reports. They also offer financing, as well as money for trade-ins.
Similarly, you can look at Autolist.com, where you can see the cheapest price on the most famous makes. Unlike most car selling websites, Autolist focuses on selling used cars under known and popular makers. They have sedans, coupes, convertibles, wagons, trucks, SUVs, minivans, hatchbacks and more from famous brands such as Chevrolet, Ford, Toyota, Honda, Ram, Nissan, GMC, BMW, Jeep, among others.
GetAuto.com, meanwhile, is strictly a dealer-to-consumer automotive search website that offers comprehensive services to serious car buyers. Visitors who join the website for free get exclusive benefits such as saving up to 10 cars as favorites while searching, access to email inbox alerts sent weekly or daily on vehicles that match your saved searches, and tracking up to 30 favorites during the car buying process.
There are many other websites that can get you the best used car deal. You can even go and search through eBay, where internal reports have indicated that every 52 seconds, a passenger vehicle sells on the website.