Tips On Buying Secondhand Cars

Buying a car is a big financial decision, even when you decide to save a few bucks by going the secondhand route. This is why it’s so important to do your research and make sure your investment is sound. First, you have to know your budget and the type of car that will best suit your needs. Perhaps a compact and frugal sedan is all you need to get to and from work, or maybe you need the practicality and peace of mind that comes with an SUV or crossover. Of course, if you’re just in it for the thrills, there are plenty of sports coupes to choose from.

However, narrowing down your list is just the first step. No car is perfect, and pre-owned ones often suffer from additional problems due to years of wear and tear. Therefore, it makes sense to know which cars have a reputation for reliability and longevity, because if your budget is really tight, you might be looking at one that is between five and ten years old, which means there will be no warranty to fall back on if something goes wrong.

Buying secondhand: the basics

Regardless of the type of vehicle you end up buying, there are things you should always do. These include making sure you never pay for a car without seeing it. This doesn’t mean getting pictures, no matter how legitimate they may seem. Apart from simply ensuring that the vehicle is actually real, getting a firsthand look will help you spot any potential problems that a cunning photographer may be able to crop out. There may be damage from rust, hail, or even a fender bender. If you can’t arrange to see the car in person, get a trusted friend or hire a mechanic to inspect it for you.

Then there is the paperwork. Make sure you receive a full history of the car from the point of purchase until now. This includes all the service logs and any maintenance that needed to be performed. It is wise to check websites like the NHTSA for any recalls that may have been issued for the vehicle. If there are any, insist on seeing paperwork that proves the vehicle received the necessary repairs. If it can’t be provided, check to see if the manufacturer will still cover recall repairs for free. If not, move on.

Beyond these basics, there are more complex issues you may have to contend with. For example, when shopping out of state, calculate how much extra the transportation fees will be to see if it’s worth your while. Also, take into account how registration and sales taxes will affect the final price.

Hit and miss

Some brands have made a name for themselves when it comes to overall reliability and quality. While a fancy interior with plenty of comfort features is nice, what matters more is how long the car will last and how many problems it has faced over its lifespan. The modern Toyota Prius is a genuinely good car, and the manufacturer is regarded as one of the most reputable in the USA. True, it’s not the most exciting thing to look at or to drive, but it’s highly efficient and has a stellar track record for reliability. This is why it’s a great secondhand buy at around five years old. However, the same cannot be said for the 3rd-generation Prius.

It had some good points, there’s no denying that. These include superb fuel economy figures and a rather spacious interior. But there were a lot more downsides. These included practical concerns, like an uncomfortable driving position and a somewhat cramped back seat. But more importantly, the model had some serious reliability issues that make one wonder if it is actually a Toyota. The automaker currently holds several of the top spots on the list of top sellers in America, but this goes to show you that even the greats can deliver a dud or two.

This is why it is so important to research the history of a model rather than just relying on the reputation of a brand. The same can be said for luxury vehicles. While they generally don’t stand the test of time as well as their more mainstream rivals, they can last it well cared for. But, they have their own problems, and you should be sure you stay mindful of them.

With or without options

When buying a brand new car, you get to decide exactly what you want. You can pick the trim level and even the packages or options you like. However, secondhand cars are tailored to someone else’s tastes and finding someone who thinks just like you can be difficult. In fact, the way a car is configured can often impact its resale value in more ways than you think. For example, the BMW E90 problems are largely dependent on which engine it comes with.

It was offered with both a turbocharged and a naturally aspirated engine, with the latter causing more issues, There were other concerns, such as electrical issues and a recall for the airbags, but these are the types of things you should be looking out for anyway, as we mentioned earlier. Problems with the engine are far more pressing, as replacing it will totally offset any money you save when buying used, and the same goes for cars that include problematic packages. These are the types of things you may not necessarily think of when doing your research.

All that being said, the BMW 3 Series from this era is actually one of the best models to buy, boasting excellent handling dynamics, a comfortable ride, and an extremely plush and well-put-together cabin. So long as you manage to avoid the turbo engine and you know the car has been well taken care of, you should be very happy with the purchase. This just proves how important it is to know the finer details of a car’s history and which options or accessories you may want to avoid.

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