How Used Can Your Used Car Be

Are you considering purchasing a used car? Find out expert tips on purchasing a used vehicle and the most popular places to find used vehicles in this handy guide.

When you are purchasing a brand-new vehicle, there are few details that you need to pay close attention to as the car is delivered straight from the manufacturer. On the other hand, when you are buying a used car, you need to consider multiple aspects of the specific vehicle to ensure quality, safety, and value. Fortunately, this guide provides everything you need to know about used cars including expert tips, important features to check before purchase, average purchase prices, and popular places to find used cars. 

Expert Tips on Buying Used Cars

Look Up the Vehicle History 

According to the Federal Trade Commission, one of the most important steps when choosing and purchasing a used vehicle is to check the car's history. The history will show the title as well as any insurance losses and salvage information. You may also receive information related to accidents or repairs. This can provide you with valuable insights into whether the car has been driven properly and maintained well. For reports, you may visit the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System, AutoCheck, CarFax, and VinAudit

Purchase an Independent Inspection

Whether you are experienced with car maintenance and repair, or you know little to nothing about how cars run, a professional inspection can only benefit you. An independent inspection from a qualified mechanic can catch problems with a car that you may otherwise overlook.

Find Out if It Is Salvage 

It is crucial to know if your intended car was stolen and not recovered or declared as salvage. You can find this information easily by visiting the National Insurance Crime Bureau and entering the VIN. 

Test Drive Before Buying

Although many people test drive brand new cars, many drivers take used cars for granted when it may be even more necessary to test them out. You should let the seller know you will be taking it on a reasonably long ride, as you want to make sure it will hold up on different types of roads, inclines, and curves. 

Know the Worth 

When you are receiving an inspection from a professional, do not be shy to ask them how much they believe the car to be worth. They may be able to give you a rough estimate and detail exactly why it is not worth top dollar. You should also perform independent research on the make and model prior to negotiating the price with the owner. You want to be informed so that you do not lose money during the deal.

Important Features to Check on a Used Car

If you are investing in a used car, you should always have a professional mechanic inspect the vehicle prior to purchase. However, there are some key features that you can look over yourself. If there is a problem with any of the following aspects, you may wish to discontinue the process of getting the car inspected, negotiating, or purchasing the car. 

Exterior Condition 

Many cars that have not been taken care of properly will have large patches of rust or rust that has eaten away at certain portions of metal. While a small patch of rust here or there can be easily fixed, severe rust problems indicate trouble. 


Mismatching tires, worn out treads, or uneven treads may be a sign to walk away. Ultimately, this could be a sign that there could be more serious steering or frame issues with the car. 


Under the hood of the car, everything should be intact and pristine. There should be no visible leaks, cracks, corrosion, or discolored oil and transmission fluid. You can also benefit from taking the vehicle for a test drive, as engine problems can be detected through the engine light illuminating, engine stalling, odors coming from the running engine, or problematic noises as you drive. 


You can understand a great deal about a car's history just from its frame. You should make sure the doors, hood, and truck all open and close easily. You should also inspect underneath the car to verify it is sitting evenly. The bumpers and other parts should be intact, pristine, and adhered properly. If this is not the case, the car may have been in an accident. 

Age and Mileage 

In most cases, you should avoid cars that are older than five years old or have a high mileage. Old cars are likely to be damaged and less safe and efficient than newer vehicles. Likewise, high mileage cars may run into efficiency or safety issues much quicker. If you know the age of the car but wish to know if it is a low or high mileage car, you simply need to check the mileage and divide that number by the age. If the result is higher than the yearly mileage average, 24 000 miles, then you are handling a high mileage car.

Average Purchase Price of Used Cars 

While the average price of used cars has risen in recent years, the price is still significantly lower than a brand-new vehicle which is the main appeal. You may expect to pay between $24,000 and $29,000 for a used motor vehicle today. Naturally, the price may vary based on many factors including mileage, age, the condition, any special features or add-ons, the paint color, any accident history, and your location. 

There are also costs associated with buying a used car that you may not think about. If you are not paying the full amount upfront and rather financing the car, you may need to pay a down-payment and finance charges. In terms of the car itself, you may need to pay sales tax, documentation and registration fees, insurance, extended warranties, car repairs, and car upgrades. Likewise, it may be beneficial to remember you will have ongoing costs such as car maintenance services and fuel. 

Popular Places to Find Used Cars

It is not difficult to find used cars which may be advantageous if you need to find a suitable option within your budget and preferences. The most popular places to find used cars include: