A red 2016 Chevy Impala is driving on a city street.

How to Master the Art of Buying Used Cars

You’ll often find a spattering of car makes, models and ages when you peruse used car lots seeking your next vehicle. It often makes you wonder, what is a great age for a used car? It can depend, honestly. If you are looking for a vehicle that is going to keep running for a long time at a very low price, you may want to consider a car that was built within the last 20 years from a brand that is known for longevity, such as Chevrolet or Buick.

Anything over 20 years old and you are bound to encounter issues sooner rather than later, and those issues will only increase in frequency as you drive the car more. If you are interested in an extremely low-cost vehicle that you are just hoping to use for short trips and don’t necessarily care about longevity, then there are certain manufacturers and models that you may want to consider for that as well. The following will give general tips and tricks to finding great deals on used car lots. If you aren’t sure what you are looking for, you won’t give yourself the best shot at treating yourself and your wallet with respect. Read on to become a master of buying used cars.

General Tips for Buying Used Cars

The common person, when they go to buy or sell a car, is not exactly sure of the process or how it works. While these tips are work for individuals purchasing from other individuals, some of the general advice applies to those purchasing from used car lots as well. Used car lots can often be the spot for people to first investigate. Before skipping down to your local auto dealer, though, you may want to do some research online.

Through the use of online tools such as CarFax, you can get the details about a car, such as its accident history and number of previous owners, that you would not know upon first glance. If you are only looking to go through a dealer, you may be best suited by visiting the dealer’s website directly. On a car dealer’s website, you are able to peruse the inventory of that specific dealer. You will be able to search through their inventory much faster than walking the used car lot on your own two legs!

It may be wise to utilize multiple dealer websites in the area to better understand the relative cost for the condition of a certain type of car. However, you wouldn’t want to buy a car without knowing if it’s a steal or not, of course. While we are on the topic of great deals, it’s important to know how to judge the quality of a vehicle. Sure, you could look simply at the exterior and give the car a rating on aesthetics, but you’d be wiser to check for leaks, pop the hood and look at the engine, and do an overall check for bumps, dents, and scratches on the inside and outside that you may not see. Small issues on the surface can sometimes mean larger issues later on.

A woman is looking under the hood of a car next to a salesman at a used car lot.

Chevrolet Models to Look For In Used Car Lots

As far as Chevrolet goes, there are a few models that you may want to pick up if you are searching for a used vehicle. Chevrolet has a long history of car-making under the parent company of General Motors. In fact, it has been around for over 100 years and certainly has a solid understanding of what makes a good motor as well as a good car in general.

In the category of compact cars, the Chevrolet Cavalier is a great option. The vehicle is reliable, cheap, and gets great gas mileage. Even though the last generation of this model ran from 1995 to 2005, these vehicles are known to just keep going and going. There aren’t many fancy features to get hung up on either, which means fewer components to worry about as the car ages.

In the midsize car section, your best bet is the Chevrolet Impala. If you can find it, the 3.8L V6 is an amazing engine to roll with. If you are looking for a car with a bit more size and power with decent fuel economy, a used Chevrolet Impala is a great option.

If you want even more room, the SUV category has some great options for Chevrolet. Your best bet will be going with a used Chevrolet Tahoe. Whether you find a 4.8L or 5.3L engine, you are sure to find a great deal with this model. It’s an excellent vehicle that is known for going for 250,000 or more miles before failing. This model is also great for towing and the generous interior space it provides.

Not satisfied yet? Well then, you may be looking for a used sports car. Chevrolet has some great used sports cars that you may want to consider. The one that takes the cake, though, is the fifth-generation Corvette from the early 2000s specifically. You can pick up a C5 Corvette and have all the power and nimbleness of a real sports car without spending a fortune to get it. They are fast, reliable, and handle amazingly.

Buick Models to Look For In Used Car Lots

A dark grey 2016 Buick Regal is parked on bricks in front of a building.

As far as Buick goes, in the midsize section, a good selection would be the Buick Regal. The only engine offered in this model is the Buick 3.6L engine. It is a reliable engine that tends to run and run until it’s done. It’s fairly luxurious for its time as well, so it’s going to ride better and look better than many other models in its class and time.

Regarding the large car section for Buick, a great car to consider is the Buick Park Avenue. The car is huge, rides like a dream, and looks amazing. It houses a 3.8 V6 engine, which is considered one of the best engines to be made from Buick. They are not expensive to buy or maintain, as the parts are widely available.

In the SUV category, the Buick Rainier is a go-to choice. These SUVs look great, house a 4.2L Vortec inline-6 engine. The car is reliable, produces a lot of power, and has plenty of space on the inside. You could also find one with a 5.3L Vortec V8 engine, which is widely regarded as one of the most reliable engines around.


By now, you should have some power in the form of knowledge when walking onto used car lots. You should have a basic understanding of what to look for when considering a used car, as well as some reliable models to keep an eye out for. You can take this information and use it to search for other vehicles from other manufacturers as well. Chevrolet and Buick have an amazing selection to choose from when it comes to used cars, but at the end of the day, what is really important is searching for cars with a history of dependability and reliability to get you where you need to go consistently. Buying used is a great way to go if you are hoping to save money, but it doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice on style or dependability by doing so.