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Used Car Buying GuideNotes From The Road

Top 10 Tips for Used Car Buying
By Cathy Nikkel/

What to Know and Do When Shopping for a Used Car -
Looking for a new ride? You can save a lot of money by smart-shopping the used car market. You will skirt the biggest, hidden cost in a new car—depreciation. Once that new car leaves the lot, its value immediately plummets. According to Consumer Reports, a Pontiac Vibe ‘03 or ‘04 or Scion Xb ‘04 or ’05 can be purchased for between $8,000 to $10,000. The new models of these vehicles cost $15,650 for the Xb and $15,310 for the base model Vibe. The average life of a passenger car is 20 years or 126,665 miles while light trucks have a lifespan of 25 years or 153,698 miles, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. So that ’03 to ’05 model has a lot of life left.

Today’s used cars are not the beaters of the past. Years of hectoring from consumer groups and educated consumers pushed automakers to increase the safety and reliability of passenger vehicles.
The Internet exponentially expanded a consumer’s war chest of information, in both new and used car buying skirmishes, but caveats remain. Here are some tips to steer you through the used car buying process.
What Do You Want/Need and What Can You Pay?
Get a clear idea of what you want and balance that against what you actually need. Fuel sipper? Family sedan? Would you ever really use a 4x4 capability? What safety features do you think are absolutely necessary then figure out how much you can spend and stay within that figure. Too many car buyers are meeting Re-Pro Man, and you really wouldn’t like him and what he can do to your credit rating and your self-esteem.
Look Over the Stock
Surf Internet used car listings ( has one of the largest on the web). Research professional new car road test reviews and user reviews from people who’ve driven and owned the model or models you’re interested in. Settle on three or four models that suit your needs and wants.
Consumer Reports offers a used car buying kit online for $24, giving access to their site for three months. CR includes a list of “Best of the Best” used vehicles that are top performers in CR’s reliability surveys and performed well in CR’s road tests. There is also an ominous list of “Used Cars to Avoid,” which had below average ratings in CR’s reliability surveys for their specific model years.

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