Resources for Buying Used Cars

Transportation week continues at Fiscal Fizzle, with some resources for purchasing used autos.

In the not-so-distant past, I wrote a post about the principles of car ownership and the value of purchasing used cars. The part of the process that perhaps scares people the most about this is the used-car-buying experience itself.

After all, the expression “used car salesman” is not exactly a compliment.

Options, options…

There are a number of places you can go to get a used car, and the market is much wider than that of new cars – which can usually only be purchased through dealers. You can:

  • Still go to the dealer. Many deal in used vehicles and can often bundle the deal with a “3,000 gazillion point inspection” or a multi-year warranty. Fine and dandy, but make sure you’re not over-paying for all the bells and whistles.
  • Go private. Search the newspaper or other forms of media (more below) for private listings and deal directly with another party. Be careful, inspect thoroughly and make sure you know the purchase process in your state before you go in guns blazing.
  • Use a service. Many are a mix between a dealer experience and a private sale – they will handle many of the transactional details for you, while you still get the benefit of getting a product directly from someone else.

Getting It Done Online

I mean, really…who needs newspapers anymore? If you’re serious about car buying, the Internet puts the power in your hands – you can easily comparison shop on price, style, or colors, and do┬áresearch on the vehicle of your choice with a few clicks of the mouse.

Here is a collection of very useful resources when it comes time to buying a used car:

  • Kelley Blue Book – Your first stop to determine used car values and what you should expect to pay.
  • Consumer Reports – Yes, you will have to pay a fee to access the knowledge database, but you have unlimited looks and unlimited cars and more. I’ve already recommended getting a subscription once – do it! You’ll see car’s reliability ratings and more, which is key for buying used!
  • CarFax – Like the commercial says, don’t get a used car without getting a Carfax history report. It’s like getting a title history when you buy a home – it’s just good practice.
  • A wide collection of companies where you can browse and compare various vehicles. Each site has its own quirks and benefits, so browse through and pick one you like best. Here’s the brief list: eBay Motors, AutoTrader, Cars.com, UsedCars.com, Edmunds, Carmax and Vehix.

Had a good car-buying experience lately? Learned something beneficial? Why not share it with everyone in the comments?!

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4 thoughts on “Resources for Buying Used Cars

  1. Pingback: Personal Finance Buzz
  2. You don’t need to pay for a CarFax report when you can get the same info for free at The National Motor Vehicle Title Information System.

    For more details, read the full story at

  3. Thanks for the tips. I have had success using Edmunds.com and truecar.com for research

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