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The Pros and Cons of Buying Used Cars

Let's face the truth: cars are expensive. New vehicles are more costly than used, so you're giving some serious thought to buying a pre-owned vehicle. Will you really save money? What are the advantages and disadvantages of going this route? What can you reasonably expect from a used car? These are the things that you should consider before you head to the dealership.

The Pros

New vehicles depreciate by a few thousand dollars or more the moment their first owners drive them off the lots. If you're the second buyer, you can save quite a bit of cash without sacrificing quality.

Many dealerships have pre-owned/used lots next to the new cars. They will check incoming used cars from bumper to bumper, perform any necessary repairs or maintenance and then certify them as good used vehicles. You can in many cases find cars that are only a couple of years old – and with low mileage on the odometers.

Should you buy a used car that's still within the original warranty period, ask if that will transfer should you buy the vehicle. In many cases, the answer is "yes."

Some "mega lots," offer great warranty coverage. You can have a default guarantee that comes with every vehicle the lot sells or choose to add even more coverage for a nominal fee. Either way, you can drive a used vehicle off the lot with confidence.

If you buy used, you can reasonably expect to pay less money for insurance, taxes and registration.

The Cons

Used cars were "broken in" by another driver. You don't know exactly how the previous owner drove. Did he or she follow the manufacturer's guidelines for the first few hundred miles of driving? Did the previous owner perform regular maintenance? Are you getting something that's been chewed up, ragged out and discarded in favor of a new toy? If you buy used, you'll have to rely on the reputation of the dealer.

When you buy a used car from an individual – or a small car lot – this usually means that you're driving away without any warranty coverage. You don't know what's wrong with the car, what is likely to break in the next six months or even what was done to the car before you came along.

However, you can improve your odds of finding a good car by paying a mechanic to inspect before you buy. This can cost some money – a hundred bucks, maybe two hundred – but that's cheaper than buying a car with a faulty transmission or bad engine.

Another added expense with used vehicles is a CarFax report. This isn't a huge investment, but it's an additional amount of money you should spend if you want to save yourself a larger expense – and lots
of frustration – later.

Local lots might not have exactly what you want. If you want a specific truck, for example, you might not be able to find a red one. You may have to go with blue instead, or white.

Ultimately, you're the only one who can decide if new or used is right for you. Take the above advice into consideration and give the matter plenty of thought before you buy. Hopefully you'll end up with the perfect vehicle at the best possible price – and many years of happy, safe driving.

Next: Used Car Checklist

The Pros and Cons of Buying Used Cars 1
The Pros and Cons of Buying Used Cars 2
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