10 Ways to Save Money on a Used Car

Buying a Used Car

If you decide that a used car is the best way of car ownership for you, then you’ve already factored in the financial savings. But just because you’re buying a used car, doesn’t mean you’re doing all you can to save your hard-earned money.

Like everything in life, buying used cars is a little more complicated than it seems. Read more about how to save by buying a rental car, negotiating list prices, and more in this comprehensive list.

1. Opt for Less Popular Models

Yes, we all know that the best used car you can buy is either the Honda Civic or the Toyota Corolla. And when you’re in the used car market, you’ll unpleasantly surprise at how expensive these models are.

So instead of a Honda Civic, look for its counterparts from KIA or Hyundai. Because these tend to be less popular, there are fewer people looking to buy them second hand as well. The result? Cheap prices, on what is otherwise decently made vehicles.

2. Look for Base Models

Base models might have fewer features, but they’re also quite affordable. Some people even say those base models are less desirable on the used market because they don’t have the features that everyone wants.

The upside to this is that you can find a base model used cars for quite a bit cheaper than those with full options. Either way, you’ll always get a better price on base models. Another benefit of base model cars is that they’re simpler and thus less expensive to maintain in the long run.

3. Take Into Account Ownership Costs

You might be able to get a great deal on a used Mercedes S Class. But it is going to be a very very expensive ownership experience. Don’t buy a used luxury car if you don’t have a wallet overflowing with money.

If you’re buying regular used cars, take into account maintenance, parts that require immediate repair or replacement, insurance, license, registration, and taxes. These are all costs you’ll face in used car ownership, so plan your purchase keeping all these costs as part of your total budget.

4. Buy a Used Rental Car

A used car that’s been rented to random people hundreds or thousands of times might not seem like a good option. However, there is some logic behind buying used cars. Rental cars are assets of rental car companies. So experienced technicians usually maintain them well.

Secondly, let’s not ignore that because of the negative views of the public towards used rental cars, you can find them quite cheap.

5. Bring Along a Trusted Mechanic

A mechanic may charge $100 for a pre-purchase car inspection, but it’s well worth it. Just think about it, a $100 inspection could potentially save you from buying a lemon.

What’s more, you can use the mechanic’s judgment to negotiate the price. If the mechanic says the car needs work, you can mention that during negotiations to drive down the price.

6. Buy From a Private Seller

Buying from used car dealership does provide you with a sense of security that if the car doesn’t perform as promised. You can take it back for repairs or some other form of compensation.

But if you’re willing to sacrifice this sense of security for savings on the buying price, consider purchasing directly from a private seller. You’ll find great bargains on used cars by shopping around used car marketplaces that allow anyone to list their used cars.

Just make sure to have the used cars inspected by a mechanic before buying it. Private sellers usually sell on a you-get-what-you-see basis.

7. Don’t Buy a Diesel Car

Diesel cars are known for providing great fuel mileage, but they’re typically more expensive to buy and maintain. Most mechanics in the US use to work on gasoline cars. So a mechanic who works on diesel cars might be harder to find and will definitely charge you more money.

Yes, you’ll save money on fuel with a diesel car but that cost saving is easily offset by the increased maintenance bills you’ll be incurring.

8. Time of Year

The best times to shop at used car dealerships, or any car dealerships for that matter, are towards the end of quarters. That means you can get great deals on used and new cars towards the end of March, June, September, and December.

The reason behind this is simple. Dealerships need to hit sales targets every quarter, and towards the end of each quarter. As they’re desperate those targets and clear the inventory.

When you shop around this time, you get yourself a good deal and help the dealership hit its sales target as well. It’s a win-win for both.

9. Buy What You Need, Not What You Want

You might have your heart set on a Ford Mustang V8, where in reality a Honda Civic could fulfill all your car-related needs at a lower price. Just remember, that the world will still have Ford Mustangs 10 years from now.

Buy a car that your budget can support. Make sure it’s a logical purchase and not one based on emotion. The easiest way to spend way more than needed on a used car is to let your feelings dictate the purchase.

10. Look for Discontinued Models

You can usually find discontinued models for quite cheap. As people often assume that parts for these cars will become hard to find. As a result, these cars are thought of as unserviceable.

The reality is, manufacturers typically keep supporting discontinued models with parts and service long after these models are taken out of production.

If you’re feeling really adventurous and want to save serious money, consider buying a car from a manufacturer that doesn’t exist anymore. Sounds outrageous, but you should look at the used values of SAABs, for example.


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