Used car shopping has changed a lot in recent years. Although many people still shop for cars at dealerships and peruse the classified ads in the local newspaper, the Internet is also an important resource for car buyers. The key to getting a really good deal on your next used car is to use a combination of online tools and local shopping resources, to find the very best used cars that are close to home.
Resources for Affordable Used Cars in Your Area
Cars.com is an easy-to-use car search site that lets you filter your results by your location. You can enter the maximum price you're willing to pay, as well as the number of miles you will drive for the car, and receive a list of local results.
Another auto search site, Cars Direct lets you input your zip code to find results near you. You can also use the "Advanced Search" feature to limit your results to a specific price range or mileage range.
Craigslist is a mega-sized classified site that has specific boards for most areas of the country. You can search for specific makes and models that are available near you. If you're looking for something specific, you can also place a want ad for the cheap used car of your dreams.
You can find some of the best bargains in national publications like the Pennysaver, Thrifty Nickel or AutoTrader. Although some publications are for a national audience, they are location-specific. This means that most of their listings are in your area. You can often find affordable cars in these publications.
Used Car Lots
Used car lots are almost everywhere. Often, they are located near large dealerships or auto repair centers. Make sure you visit more than one so you can get an idea of what each lot is charging for the various years, makes, and models of pre-owned vehicles.
All franchised dealerships carry a line of used cars. They obtain the bulk of their used cars from customer trade-ins, and they also buy some at auctions such as Manheim. You can even find good deals on used cars purchased from rental car companies. Some also sell retired demonstration cars. Be sure to negotiate to get the best price at the dealership.
People who want to sell cars on their own will attract buyers through classified ads in your local newspaper. You'll find the largest collection of ads in weekend editions. If you live in a large metropolitan area, Wednesdays are another good day for great used car deals.
Tips for Getting a Good Deal
Before you get out your checkbook or head to the bank for a loan, it's important to make sure you're getting the best deal you possibly can on your local used car. Keep these tips in mind:
- Determine your budget before you start shopping. Use an auto loan calculator to figure out your monthly payment. Don't forget to consider the cost of ownership, which includes insurance, maintenance, and gas.
- Know which years, makes, and models fit within your budget. You can use online valuation sites like Kelly Blue Book to find a list of cars that won't strain your wallet. You'll see how the desirability of the model, the year, and the number of miles can impact the price of a car.
- Take a test drive. If possible, take along a friend and listen for noises, check knobs and controls to make sure they work, and bring along a tire pressure gauge to check the tires. If any part of the car doesn't function as it should, you may be able to get the dealer to reduce the price.
- Don't forget that you can usually negotiate on the price of a used car, whether you find it on a car lot, in the local paper, or on the Internet. Sellers are rarely firm on the price of a vehicle, and when it comes to used cars, there can be a lot of wiggle room.
An Affordable Car, Close to Home
No matter where you live, you shouldn't have to travel far to find the used car of your dreams. The Internet makes it easier than ever to find a used vehicle close to home and if you know your budget and can negotiate with the seller, you'll end up with a great car you can really afford.