It’s no secret that sales of used cars dwarf those of brand-new vehicles in the United States. According to the most accurate estimates, roughly 42.7 million used cars changed hands in 2017 alone. Used cars are increasingly popular with consumers thanks to their lower overall prices and superior returns on investment. What’s more, used cars aren’t burdened with a lot of complicated technology that many drivers don’t need or want to pay for.
While the U.S. automobile market is awash with used vehicles, locking down a bargain on a second-hand car isn’t always easy. For one thing, unscrupulous sellers are always trying to unload lemons on naive buyers. In addition, zeroing in on a fair price for a used vehicle is an imprecise art.
Here’s a quick rundown of the best places to find quality used cars as well as some tips on securing a deal.
Classified Ad Sites
Since 1995, Craigslist has been the go-to online classifieds portal for people that want to buy and sell goods with minimal overhead. Automobile sales make up a hefty chunk of the transactions arranged through Craigslist in any given year. Many used car dealerships list their latest inventory on Craigslist, which gives buyers a lot of choices. When canvassing potential deals on Craigslist, it’s important to perform VIN checks to avoid clunkers.
Arguably the largest online bazaar for automotive sales in the world, Autotrader has tens of thousands of listings at any given moment. It also boasts a variety of model reviews, how-to articles, and news items to keep consumers abreast of the latest developments in the automotive world. Autotrader’s search engine empowers users to find the car or truck they’re looking for within a specific price range in their immediate areas.
Easily the most popular online classifieds site in Canada, Kijiji is a Craigslist alternative for people who live north of the border. Depending on the exchange rate between the U.S. and Canadian dollars, it’s often quite popular with American buyers as well. Originally developed as an in-house project by a team of eBay programmers, Kijiji is a top destination for Canadian consumers that want the best prices on used vehicles.
An up-and-comer with a rapidly expanding user base, Letgo is a comprehensive marketplace app that brokers transactions for everything from used books to fishing gear. Like Craigslist, Letgo facilitates sales between ordinary citizens that typically meet face to face. Letgo’s advanced web-scraping algorithms find great deals on reliable vehicles from private sellers and dealers in your area.
Letgo’s Android and iOS apps are some of the best on the market.
Autolist makes a strong case for itself as the best used car buying app on any major mobile platform. Users can check price histories, Carfax reports, and Kelley Blue Book values at the tap of a virtual button. Much like Kayak, Autolist gleans results from across the web and curates them for the benefit of consumers. Autolist is adding new features every week in the pursuit of the ultimate car-buying experience.
Used Car Search Pro
A relative newcomer to the automotive app scene, Used Car Search Pro by iSeeCars is particularly adept at identifying deals. It compiles results from more than 40,000 dealerships and private vendors around the country in real time. Users can apply dozens of filters to zero in on the perfect used vehicle for their purposes. The app’s bargain evaluation algorithm is one of its primary claims to fame.
Traditional Car Dealerships
While online classifieds sites and apps are convenient, you can often snag the best deals by visiting local dealerships in person. Every dealership in the country has a slew of used trade-in vehicles sitting on the lot waiting to be snatched up by motivated buyers. The great thing about buying used cars from dealers is that you have a lot of wiggle room when it comes to price.
How to Get the Best Deal Possible
Regardless of the type of automobile that you’re trying to acquire, the used car purchasing process can be boiled down to three steps.
Do Your Research Beforehand
Knowing what you want before you start a car search is often the key to getting the best price. Narrow down your list of potential purchases to a small number of makes and models that you’re willing to buy. Learn everything you can about these vehicles to ensure that you’re not getting cheated on price for the goods in question. Pay particular attention to well-known problems with favored vehicles based on their model years.
Establish a Position of Strength
As a buyer, desperation is your worst enemy when it comes to finding a car you want at a good price. At a very minimum, you should shore up your financial position before you begin the bargaining process to ensure that you don’t need to take out an unnecessary loan. Savvy car sellers can often smell blood in the water and use your desperation as a weapon against you.
Haggle Your Way to a Fair Price
Once you’ve found a car or truck that meets your requirements, it’s time to get down to brass tacks. Understand that used car sellers often need you more than you need them. The point of haggling is finding a price point that allows both the buyer and seller to achieve a positive outcome. If the price is too good to be true, it’s a major red flag that a vehicle isn’t worth buying.
There’s No Substitute for Experience
While buying a used car isn’t always the most pleasant experience, you can make it a lot easier by leveraging the resources and tips mentioned here. If you’re not comfortable buying a used vehicle by yourself, have a friend with experience in the second-hand automotive market assist you. Their know-how will be invaluable as you bargain your way to a great used car deal.