Where Are the Best Used Car Deals

Used car dealsWhen buying a used car, it can be somewhat difficult to know what is a good deal and what isn’t because there are many more factors involved than when buying a brand new car.

If you are looking for a relatively new used car, don’t automatically assume that a brand new car of the same make and model will be more expensive.

Car manufactures frequently offer limited-time rebates, bonuses, low-interest loans, and discounts that can make new-car deals better than similar used-car deals. We recommend Edmunds.com as the online place to look for those deals. The prices there will automatically include any available manufacturer incentives.

Furthermore, finding the best deals is more difficult since there are no established manufacturer-set MSRP (Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price) for used cars as there is for new cars. The same car, same age, same mileage, same condition can be different prices at different dealers, in different cities, in different parts of the country. Prices are set at the discretion of the dealer or seller. Those prices might be high, low, fair, unreasonable, or anywhere in between.

Where is the best place to look for good used car deals?

It’s a common question that unfortunately has no definitive answer.  There is no source of used cars that consistently and assuredly always has the best deals. There are large national dealers, new-car dealers who also sell used cars, small dealers, buy-here-pay-here dealers who specialize in older high-mileage cars, and consignment lots. Then there are individual sellers who advertise there vehicles on eBay Motors, Craigslist, or other online sites.

One of the best ways to look for used cars is by being able to see and compare a large number of vehicles at the same time, from the same place online. We recommend Cars.combecause they show you thousands of used (and new) cars from multiple dealers in your area. You can also search for specific car makes and models if you know what you want.


Search 4.1 Million Cars

How do I know how to determine a good deal?

First, you need to know the approximate value of the car you want. You can do this by using an online price guide such as Kelley Blue Book (kbb.com) or NADA  Car Values (nadaguides.com). Keep in mind that these values are only estimates based on current data and are not “standard” prices.

If the car you want is priced close to the value you found in the online price guides, and it’s in good condition, you have a fair price, although not necessarily the lowest price, assuming you are willing to shop around and negotiate with dealers or sellers.

In general, you are more likely to get a better used car deal from a private individual seller that from a dealer who must make a profit on his sale. You are also more likely to be successful in negotiating with an individual than a dealer.

However, be careful where you look online for such private sellers. For example, Craigslist is notorious as a site that often advertises non-existent cars from scammers pretending to be legitimate sellers. Be sure to read the warnings on the Craigslist web to make certain the deal you think is too good to be true is not one of those scams.

What used cars are best to buy?

The best used cars are those in the best condition that will offer the best future reliability at a particular price point. All used cars are not equal. They have driven differently, maintained differently, have different mileage, have possibly been wrecked and repaired differently, and have different reliability histories.

Consumer Reports magazine, each year in April, publishes the results of its extensive used car owners’ survey.  Out of it comes their recommendations for the best — and worst — used cars in various styles and price ranges. It’s a valuable tool for anyone shopping for a new or used car.

Some recommended used cars from this year’s results are as follows:

Small Cars – Less than $10,000 — Ford Focus 2009-10, Pontiac Vibe 2006-09, Scion xB 2008-09

Sedans – Less than $10,000 — Acura TL 2006, Acura TSX 2006, Hyundai Sonata 2007-09, Mazda6 2009

SUVs and Minivans - Less than $10,000 — Honda CR-V 2006, Honda Pilot 2006, Toyota Sienna 2006

Small Cars – $10,000 to $15,000 — Honda Fit 2011-13, Kia Soul 2011-13, Mazda3 2011-12

Sedans – $10,000 to $15,000 — Infiniti G 2006-08, Lincoln MKZ 2009-10

SUVs – $10,000 to $15,000 — Acura MDX 2006, Toyota Highlander 2006-07

Small Cars – $15,000 to $20,000 — Toyota Prius 2012-13, Hyundai Elantra 2014-15, Honda Civic 2013-14

Included in this year’s report is also a list of the “Worst of the Worst” used cars to avoid buying, with specific makes, models, and years. Chevrolet has the largest number of vehicles in the list, followed by Ford, Dodge, and Nissan.

Can I negotiate a better deal than a dealer or seller is asking?

Generally, yes. It’s common practice for dealers and individual sellers to set an “asking” price that is higher than the price they are willing to accept as a “selling” price.”

So how much should you offer less than the asking price? Offering 10% less than the asking price is a good rule of thumb, assuming that the price is a fair one based on your pricing research. Negotiating a $12,000 asking price to a $10,000 selling price on a car worth only $8000 is still not a good deal.

It’s always a good idea to have a professional mechanic inspect any vehicle you think you want to buy. He can give you a detailed problem report which you can possibly use to negotiate a lower price, assuming the problems are not serious enough for you to abandon the deal.

Remember that your most powerful negotiating tool is your ability to walk away from the deal if you don’t think it’s fair or that the seller is being unreasonable. Don’t fall in love with a vehicle such that your emotions prevent you from making a good decision.

Where can I find good cars for $2000?

If you have a relatively small budget for your used car purchase, such as $2000-$5000, you will be looking at older cars, possibly with high mileage and potential problems. The older the vehicle, and the more miles on it, the greater the chance that there will be serious (expensive) problems. What might seem like a real bargain could easily turn out to be a huge mistake. This is why we strongly recommend that anyone considering the purchase of a used car, especially a bargain-priced one, always have it looked over by a qualified mechanic before they buy. Since most used cars are sold “as-is” any problems found after the sale are the responsibility of the buyer, not the seller.

Try Edmunds online for inexpensive used cars. Since good cheap cars are often hard to find, shopping online at a service such as Edmunds makes it much easier.

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