There are few experiences in life that are as awesome as kicking the tires on a new car. Once you slide into the driver’s seat, take in that divine new car aroma, and realize that baby is all yours, well, it gives me goose bumps just thinking about it.
Sadly though, just because you want a new car, doesn’t mean you can afford one. If finances are a challenge, buying a “new” used car can be a great option. Though many car shoppers are wary of the risks that come with buying a used car, choosing a certified pre-owned vehicle can alleviate some of those risks.
Back in the early 1990s, automakers started offering certified pre-owned vehicles to profit on low-mileage trade-ins and lease returns. Since vehicles were returning to dealerships in excellent condition, manufacturers decided to resell the cars complete with detailed inspections, reconditioning, and extended warranties.
Buyers usually get more car for their budget with a certified pre-owned vehicle than they can with a new car. To be considered certified, a vehicle needs to meet specific age and mileage requirements, and pass a dealership inspection. Certified pre-owned cars carry an extended limited warranty, but also go for a higher price. Many buyers are okay with paying that premium, because of the peace of mind the warranty gives them.
While a certified pre-owned vehicle, does minimize the potential for used car problems, there is no guarantee that you won’t have issues. With the certified used vehicle, you know that mechanics who are trained to spot trouble have inspected it. The manufacturers warranties vary, so it is important that you look at the warranty of each certified car you are considering. Depending on the program, you might get roadside assistance and a loaner-car when needed. Make sure you understand the extent to which the manufacturer will assist you if you need help resolving an issue at the dealership.
If you find a used car you like and it happens to not be certified, you might not have to rule it out. There are resources such as CARFAX and AutoCheck, which allow you to check on the background of car using its vehicle identification number (VIN) . The VIN can be found by looking at the dashboard on the driver’s side of the vehicle or on the door post of the driver’s side door.
It is also a good idea to test drive the car and if you are seriously considering it, ask your own mechanic to check it out. To assist you with what questions to ask and organizing information, Edmunds has a downloadable used car questionnaire you can use for each car you are considering.
With a little research and smart shopping, buying a used car can be just as fun and rewarding as buying a new one. Plus you may end up with some remaining funds to take a nice summer road trip in your new ride.