A row of different colored used cars for sale is shown.

Things to Consider When Purchasing a Used Car for Sale


While there is certainly a thrill in buying a car brand new from a dealership, it is certainly not the only single path to becoming a car owner. For some drivers, staying in budget is more important than flashy features or a bigger engine. For this reason, looking at used cars for sale can come in handy, and when you take the time to purchase the right model, you can end up with a vehicle equally, and if not more so, satisfying than a brand new vehicle. But, how do you make the most of your used car buying experience, and how to find the best deal possible? Well, buying used can seem awfully complicated, especially at first glance. There are a lot of factors to consider, such as who to buy from and which model will best fit your needs. Fortunately, we are going to review all of the details and give you the tools to find a vehicle that not only meets the budget but satisfies your wants and needs from a car.

Understanding the Difference Between Used and Certified Pre-Owned

While buying used is a solid alternative to buying new, there are two different types of used vehicles that are worth considering before you take the plunge. Pre-owned cars can be sold as-is by a private dealer or used car dealership, or they can be sold as certified pre-owned models. Certified pre-owned and used cars are quite different and offer two completely different buying and ownership experiences.

A vehicle that you buy used from a dealership or a private seller is often sold with minimal repair done to it before the time of purchase. If you are hoping to buy a vehicle used, we highly recommend that you seek a model out from a reputable dealership, as you can face a lot of potential risk in buying used from a private seller. Buying used from a private seller can result in unintended mechanical issues that neither you nor the seller could have seen coming. Alternatively, a reputable dealership will inspect their used car selection rigorously and ensure that each of their models offers a reliable ride at the time of sale.

On the other hand, certified pre-owned models are a little different, as they have been inspected and certified by the manufacturer. Certified pre-owned or CPO models can feel practically new behind the wheel, as everything from the carpets to the engine has been inspected, refurbished or repaired. It is worth noting that CPO models tend to have a higher price tag than used models. However, they can also be purchased with pretty comprehensive warranties that cover everything from mechanical issues to accidents.

So, before you buy, you should ask yourself whether you should purchase CPO or used. For some drivers on a tight budget, buying used may be the better fit. Alternatively, if you have a bit more cash to spend, and want to buy something that feels close to being new, CPO may be the right choice for you.

A salesman is showing a couple a grey used vehicle.

Picking Out the Right Model

When you shop used, you will likely get quite the selection to choose from, especially when you purchase from a dealership. Used car dealerships typically have an ample used inventory, with a plethora of different models. That said, many buyers can feel overwhelmed by that choice, especially if you do not know what you are looking for. Vehicles come in all shapes, sizes, and types, and when you purchase from a used dealership, you will have to contend with a variety of manufacturers as well.

All that said, one of the best ways to categorize your automotive model research is to base it off of the body styling. The body styling of a car can define the type of engine you can expect as well as the spacing for cargo and passengers. Some of the typical body stylings include pickup trucks, sedans, SUVs, vans, and coupes. SUVs, for instance, offer up a bounty of cargo and passenger space, tend to use bigger engines, and can be equipped with versatile drivetrains. If you are the parent to a big family or want to purchase your next adventure car, it may be worthwhile to buy an SUV. Alternatively, if you are looking for a fuel-efficient, comfortable commuter car, a sedan may be a solid choice. Sedans tend to be smaller vehicles that offer excellent gas mileage and can come packed with features that provide additional safety and driver comfort.

It would help if you also considered automotive reviews when purchasing a used model. You will want to invest in something that is not just reliable at high mileage, but a model that is well received by automotive critics. By researching reviews of a vehicle, you can also make yourself aware of potential mechanical issues for which a car is known. Reliable vehicles are often highly praised by reviewers and critics alike and can provide you with considerable value in the long-term.

So, if you are hoping to purchase a used vehicle, you should first ask yourself what kind of car might best fit your daily lifestyle needs. On top of that, you should research your vehicle for reliability, so that you can purchase a vehicle that will carry you well into the future.

The Importance of the Test Drive

A man is enjoying a test drive in a black and tan interior of a used car.

While there are many aspects of the car buying experience, the most important thing to focus on is the test drive. The test drive is your chance at a first impression with a vehicle, and when it comes to car buying, first impressions matter. When you purchase a car from a dealership, you will likely be able to take an extensive test drive wherein you can ask all the questions and take time to get a feel for your vehicle. Although, if you purchase from a private seller, you should still stress the importance of a thorough test drive.

During your test drive, you should take the vehicle on a route that you are familiar with. A familiar ride can help you get an idea of what driving the car regularly might be like, and help you visualize your ownership experience. It would help if you also were sure to pay attention to things like the feel and responsiveness of the engine. Not all used models have mechanical issues, but keeping a keen eye out for these kinds of things can help you avoid a potential repair project.

Taking Your Time and Doing it Right

While all the previous points of advice are important, the best thing you can do when purchasing a vehicle, whether new or used, is to take your time. Buying a car is a big leap, one that requires some long term commitment and a substantial amount of money. Often, when you purchase a used car, there is an expectation that you will be driving it for several years to come, so you want to make sure that the car not only works but is satisfying. By taking your time and doing your research ahead of time, you can ensure that the vehicle you drive home in is one that fits your budget, and one that you love to drive.