St. Augustine Woman's Journal - Educational Resource to the Women of St. Johns County Since 2009

By Joe DiFeo 

You Can Buy a Used Car With Peace of Mind


September 1, 2018 | View PDF

Are you considering purchasing a used car? Last year over 40 million used cars were purchased in the US, so you are not alone. Purchasing used instead of new can save you good money, but it's prudent to know how to avoid buying "someone else's problem."

You have quite a few options on how and where you buy a used car. You can buy from a private individual, an independent dealership that deals exclusively in used cars, or a new car dealership that sells Certified Pre-Owned cars of their own make which include a warranty as well as other make used cars usually acquired as trade-ins.

Whatever option you settle on, make sure that you investigate the car's reconditioning history by getting details from the seller. reconditioning includes updating recommended maintenance such as fluid and filter changes along with repairing any mechanical or body issues. New car dealerships typically spend an average of $1,200 on reconditioning a used vehicle before offering it for sale. Used car dealerships spend less on average, and they may not be doing the work themselves if they don't have a service facility.

An important aspect of the vehicle's history to investigate closely when buying any type of used car is the accident history. Up to 30 percent of used cars have been involved in accidents, and vehicle history reports such as those supplied by Carfax reliably capture

information on most of these.

Accidents reported on vehicle history reports are usually rated minor, moderate, or severe. You should avoid cars have been involved in severe accidents, because no matter how well they have been reconditioned, future problems may arise because of problems with the body or engine that could have gone undetected. One of the most telling details that signal the severity of an accident is whether the air bags deployed during impact. If the air bags deployed, you should certainly tread with caution as the severity of impact could have compromised the frame of the car.

Salvage Rebuilt cars have been rebuilt from damage of more than 50 percent of their original parts. Because such cars have

been so drastically rebuilt, it is difficult to get the frame and other elements back to factory specifications. These cars are usually

a lot cheaper, but clearly come with their own set of problems and risks, especially the risk that a compromised frame could

increase the chances of injury or death in an accident.

If the vehicle history report indicates "manufacturer buyback" you should also tread carefully. Manufacturer buybacks are "lemons" that the manufacturer bought back from a consumer due to a defect that could not be fixed after repeated attempts. The manufacturer typically resells these cars at auction at significantly discounted rates. New car dealerships generally do not resell these lemons at all. Other used car dealerships, however, may buy the lemons at auctions and remarket them for sale as a used car. Savings can be significant, but if you are considering buying a manufacturer buyback have an independent mechanic perform a full checkup and give you a detailed report. As in other instances, if a seller does not allow you to have the car inspected by an outside source consider

this a serious red flag and move on.

If you deal with a reputable seller and do a little extra research purchasing a used car can be an economical and rewarding experience. If you purchase certified pre-owned from a new car dealer you will have a warranty for extra peace of mind!


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