How to Buy a Good Used Car

Updated on December 13, 2011
B.R. asks from Columbus, OH
13 answers

Looking at the price of the new model car we're interested in is making us consider buying used. We've never bought a used car before, so I'm looking for advice on how to make sure the car you're buying doesn't have any major problems.

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

Featured Answers



answers from Minneapolis on

buying a used car that was a rental car is a great choice (yes it use to be a bad choice) but the requirements for rental companies/or leased vehicles on maintaining vehicles is a lot more strick now days. A lot of times you can get one still under warrenty also. We bout a enterprise rental van 3 years ago two years old still under warranty for 7k less then what is was worth, they wanted it gone.

More Answers



answers from Beaumont on

You could get a "cerified" used car. They've done systematic checks to verify good workability. I've always bought used cars and THANK GOD haven't had any problems. I research the models that I want, narrow it down, see the average price and then find one. I think it's a great idea for you and everyone. New car prices are outrageous! Good luck!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

I would take it to a mechanic that you trust and have them check everything out. If the dealer will not allow this, go to a different dealer!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

If possible, buy a Certified Used car. Most dealers offer these. Their prices usually already reflect the depreciation and will carry over any remaining factory warranty.

There is place called CarMax here that has really nice pre-owned vehicles.

There is also a document called a CarFax that will tell you all reported issues with any car. Dealers will provide this if you ask. You should also be able to look it up yourself, for a cost.

Ask for maintenance records. Esp. if you are buying from a private owner. The presence of maintenance records will tell you ALOT about the car and how well its been cared for.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Houston on

Craigslist is a good place to look. I've bought and sold vehicles on there. Have a mechanic you know check it out. OR most repair shops/dealers will charge one hour labor to do this if you don't know or have a mechanic. That charge will usually be $80-$100. It could be worth every penny. Good Luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

do your homework, just like anything else. when you have a couple you are interested in, go online to KBB.COM and look at their resale value. google the make and model and see what they are selling for. take what shape its in and mileage into account. DEFINITELY check it out with a mechanic. and like someone said, a reputable dealer will let you have someone check it out. i am very anti-new car so i know of which i speak. you of course want to look at tires, but also the brakes and belts. those are things that i have had trouble with in the past - but i have learned from my mistakes :) you can easily look at these things and know whether they will need replaced soon. also stick with a reputable dealer. and like with anything else, GO IN KNOWING WHAT YOU WANT. don't let them talk you into anything. research, research, research!



answers from Washington DC on

We bought our Prius from CarMax. We haven't had an issue and will go back again.



answers from Cleveland on

Having just bought the newest car I have ever owned (and it's still used) here's what I have found out.

Nomatter who or where you buy the car from, take it to a mechanic you trust for a complete check.

Get as complete of a history on the car as possible (carfax ect.)

Warranties are AWESOME! this is the first time I've ever had this security and I take my car in for everything now, simply because it is covered, with 4 kids and another on the way I really like not having to worry and wonder what that strange noise might be.


answers from Lakeland on

Get a car fax done and try to buy from a reputable dealer. Most dealer mark ups on a used car are kind of high so you can haggle a bit to get a better price. The new car mark ups are not as high as some may think. ALWAYS take a test drive and you can also stop and have you own mechanic take a look at the car (as long as the mechanic is not too far away).
Oh and I will say it again get a car fax done, even if you have to pay for it (most dealers do it already so you shouldn't have to).


answers from St. Louis on

I tend not to buy used cars from people unless I know them. I have had luck buying certified cars from dealers. One thing you need to be aware of though is the resale value of a car. Hondas and some Toyotas you are better off buying a new car because they are pretty old and high miles before buying a used becomes a good deal. Those buggers really hold their value.

Even with dealers know their reputation. There are a couple around here that are known to give easy credit so the prey on those that can't get credit and sell crappy cars they won't stand behind.


answers from Washington DC on

If you buy used, buy from a dealership...if you purchase from ebay or craigslist - ask if they will allow you to take it to your mechanic for a check - if they won't then don't buy it.

Most dealerships offer "certified" used cars - which USUALLY means they put it up on the racks - check everything - brakes, belts, oil, radiator, electronics, etc. before they put it on the lot to sell.

Toyotas, Hondas and Volkswagens usually retain their value. Most people don't trade them in until they have at least 100K on them...

Look for body cancer (rust), check the tires - take a penny with you and if the depth of the tread doesn't meet Lincoln's head? you'll be replacing them soon!

Pop the hood - check the stuff yourself - spark plugs, battery - look for corrosion...




answers from Chicago on

Also see if they have a used lease model of that car we were able to get one with low miles and almost no wear and tear



answers from Pittsburgh on

The best thing, financially, is to buy from a private owner.
If they have their service records & history--all the better.
A used car from a dealership is still going to be "retail" priced.
A private owner knows he is not going to get the KBB retail pricing ffrom a private party so more wiggle room in the asking price, and the asking price itself will be lower. That's because when a used car is taken at trade--the give you wholesale credit and charge retail when they sell it.
Do your homework. Research the cars you are interested in--lemon years, etc.
CarFax is worth the money. If your husband knows about cars, he can thoroughly check it out or ask if you can take it to a mechanic for a once over.
We have sold cars on craigslist. My mom has as well.
Good luck!

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions