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How to find the best place to buy used cars

There are many advantages to buying a used car. One of the more appealing reasons is saving money. Used cars are often less expensive than newer models, depreciate slower, and can save you money on auto insurance and taxes. Due to these savings, you may be able to buy a nicer model than you would have otherwise bought. 

Moreover, buying a used car allows you to research a particular model's driving history to make sure it is performing well before you buy. If all of this sounds good to you, you might be in the market for a used car. The next step is to shop around. So, where is the best place to buy a used car? 

How to Narrow Down Your Used Car Search

There are many car dealerships and retailers out there, both online and brick-and-mortar establishments, as well as private sellers to choose from. Having so many options can make your search for the right car feel overwhelming. One way to narrow your search is to first consider your budget, the type of car you're in the market for, and how your creditworthiness can affect your financing options.

Consider your budget

To begin, figure out how much you're willing to spend on the down payment and on the vehicle overall. An independent car dealership is often the best place to buy used cars when you are on a tight budget. Buying from a private seller may also save you money and typically offers more wiggle room for negotiating the final going price.

Consider your used vehicle options

Another way to narrow your search is by narrowing down the type of used vehicle you're in the market for. Consider the make, model, and year you prefer and any similar vehicles you may have an interest in. Not only can this step help you narrow your search to dealerships and retailers that offer your preferred vehicle, but it can also give you a better idea about your budget. For example, if you prefer a newer vehicle, you can expect to spend more on the vehicle than you would on an older car. A good way to get started is by using Chase Auto, which provides an online inventory tracker that will send you personalized updates to better refine your search. 

Consider your financing needs

Creditworthiness plays a big role in determining your financing needs at the end of the day. Poor credit may make it harder to secure financing. Keep in mind that if a dealership doesn't offer financing, or if you're buying from a private seller, you may need to secure an auto loan through a third party. 

Where can I buy used cars?

There are several establishments where you can buy used cars. The main options are new car dealerships, independent dealerships, used car retailers, and private sellers.

New car dealerships

New car dealerships may focus on selling only one or two vehicle brands and are typically large enough to hold a wide selection of used vehicles, giving buyers plenty of options. One option typically found at new car dealerships is a certified pre-owned vehicle (CPO). CPOs undergo extensive inspections as set by the manufacturer of the vehicle and may come with good warranties. The availability of CPOs makes new car dealerships a good place to buy used cars.

New car dealerships also typically offer in-house financing, making the process of buying a used car more streamlined.

Independent dealerships

Independent dealerships are dealers that can sell cars from any manufacturer.  Independent dealerships fall under a wide umbrella: these dealerships can vary wildly in terms of vehicle selection and financing services. You are likely to find relatively inexpensive used vehicles at an independent lot when compared to a new car dealership. At the same time, many independent dealers buy and sell exclusively in specific types of cars, which can help you narrow down your search.

While independent dealerships may offer more inexpensive cars, some do not offer financing services, while others offer in-house financing only.

Used car dealers

A used car dealer buys and sells a variety of pre-owned vehicles from many manufacturer brands. Used car dealers typically maintain vehicle showrooms, but many also provide online browsing and purchasing options as well. Online retailers offer buyers the benefit of shopping for a vehicle at their convenience. However, visiting a lot in person may reveal important details about a car you might have missed otherwise.

Used car dealers are also one of the best places to buy used cars. Used car dealers often require inspections of all their vehicles. Many also provide buyers with free vehicle histories and safety recall reports so that the buyer can make a well-informed purchase. 

However, used car retailers often maintain set price points, with no room for buyer negotiations.

Private sellers

A private seller is a person that is looking to sell their car on their own.  Buying a car from a private seller is a good option if you are looking to save money on the purchase as they may be more willing to negotiate on the price of their vehicle. 

It's important to understand that buying from a private seller may render the vehicle sale an "as-is" transaction. If this is the case, you should get the vehicle inspected before purchasing, as you could be responsible for any mechanical issues or repairs after purchase even if the car is still under a warranty.

A drawback to buying from a private party is that you have to do your own independent research and browsing to find the vehicle you want. You also do not get the advantage of seeing multiple options side by side. Lastly, you may have to secure your own independent financing.

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