Score the Perfect Ride with these Used Car Buying Tips

By Justin Hun  •  June 25, 2014

Buying a new car can be expensive, especially if you’re tight on cash. Used cars can be just as new as the ones sold on the sales lot of your local dealer. In fact, businesses thrive on selling used cars that are either traded in or sold from private sellers. You might even want to consider going to a private seller directly if you want to negotiate a price. But before you decide to take the big leap and sign that pink slip, consider the doing your research and utilizing these used car buying tips.


Used Car Buying Tips


Check out reviews and listen to suggestions. I grew up around Hondas and all my family members drive a Honda or a make from a Honda, like Acura. When I became able to drive, it was a simple decision to choose driving a Honda, too. It was more than mere favoritism; it was experiencing the quality the company offers. My dad bought a brand new Honda Prelude in 1989, and it lasted two decades with 300,000 miles.  


Do your research and look for what car reviewers have to say, like Edmunds or J.D. Power. Try searching “most reliable cars” and see what comes up. You’ll find articles and reviews suggesting top models of recent years and how they performed. Be sure to read the reviews of what drivers say about their experiences and what they recommend. Don’t necessarily rely on a dealer because they tend to tell you what you want to hear.

If you already have a favorite car brand, just look into what models are most reliable. Don’t forget to ask your friends about what brands and vehicles they’ve experienced; you’d be surprised about what you might learn about a new car company.

Other notable car sites:



Find a car you can afford. When you think you’ve found a car you might want to buy, keep in mind the costs that come with it. What’s your budget? If you have to take out a loan, figure out monthly payments that are suitable to your income. Use an affordability calculator to help you figure out a monthly plan. You also have to add on taxes, tags, vehicle transfer, and other additions that may take you over budget.

For the long-term cost, calculate how much gas you would spend on your daily commute. This may weight on your final decision. Getting a used hybrid may be more expensive upfront, but you might save more on gas compared to a traditional full-size sedan.

Keep tabs on maintenance costs. Maintaining the quality of your car ensures it has a long life. Inevitably, cars need to be serviced every few ten thousand miles to make sure everything is in order and fully efficient. Some car companies, especially European brands like Audi and Mercedes, require specialists that work specifically on those types of engines and mechanisms, and they tend to cost more because of high-demand. Other companies such as Honda and Toyota are easier to maintain, and parts and labor are easier to come by. You can even take a class or learn online about how to fix your own car if you go with an Asian make.  



Get a clue about insurance costs. The next thing to think about is insurance premiums. Insurance can skyrocket if you decide to get a newer model car. Keep in mind the style of the car you pick can be expensive. Convertibles as well as sports-coupes can add up to a whole lot more than a compact sedan. helps out and calculates the most expensive and least expensive models to give you an idea of which models are the cheapest to insure.

Figure out what will suit you beforehand. Drive a friend’s car or go to a dealership for test-drives. Get a feel for what you like. If you tend to transport a lot of things, you might want a car with more space or a bed for carrying heavier stuff. If you have a family, then you’ll want a car with lots of seats and cargo space. At the end of the day, getting a car you’re comfortable with is the goal. 

Justin Hun Justin Hun Justin Hun has an obsession with food and books—especially books about food. His favorite past times include watching the Food Network and researching for ways to save money and be cheap.

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