Buying a used car can be a good way to save money on your transportation costs. As soon as a new car is driven off the sales lot, it depreciates. With a used car, you don’t have to deal with the depreciation. The pricing of a used car can vary by location, mileage, condition and demand for that particular make and model of vehicles. Use these four tools and tips to find the best prices when buying a used car.
1. Try a Used Car Valuation Tool
Many websites offer used car valuation tools that instantly give you a value range for a particular vehicle. You’ll need the make, model and year of manufacture or the VIN for the used car. Edmund’s, Kelly Blue Book, Auto Trader and several other websites offer online tools that allow you to get a range of values for a used car, but they might not take into account the mileage, condition or maintenance history. If you’re buying a used car that’s rare, consider looking at online auction sites. Sort by closed auctions. eBay, Goodwill Industries and other organizations sell vehicles by online auction, and their histories may offer some helpful tips on finding the selling prices of used vehicles that aren’t commonly sold at dealerships.
2. Get the CARFAX Report
CARFAX is an online vehicle history service provider. Anyone can get a basic CARFAX report on a vehicle, including its current estimated value. To get this report, you’ll need the vehicle’s license plate number, VIN and its make, model, year and the location where the car will be purchased. CARFAX takes into account how many owners a vehicle has had, whether it has been in any accidents and the vehicle’s reported service records.
3. Visit Your mechanic
An independent third-party professional is a good tool to have for learning a good sale price for a used car. You should take a used car to your mechanic for an inspection for your financial protection and peace of mind. While you’re there, tell the mechanic how much the dealer is charging for the car. Your mechanic’s inspection of the vehicle will allow them to tell you whether the listed price for the vehicle is a good deal based on the vehicle’s mileage and condition.
4. Look at the Total Cost of Ownership
The cost of ownership goes beyond the monthly car payment for a used car. It includes the cost of insuring the vehicle, its fuel economy, its typical repair and maintenance requirements and its performance over time. Kelly Blue Book, NerdWallet and other websites offer online calculators that allow you to look at the three- to five-year cost of ownership for a vehicle. Be sure to input the model year of the vehicle you want to buy.