The Internet has made it possible for you to purchase a used car from the comfort of your home. The days of needing to visit a car dealership to purchase a vehicle are gone. More people are choosing to complete the car-buying process without ever having to visit a dealership.
Learn how the used car market works and how Ship a Car Direct can transport your vehicle once the transaction has taken place.
How Do Used Car Sites Work?
Purchasing a preowned vehicle online has notable advantages over the traditional buying process. Instead of negotiating face-to-face with a dealer, you are presented with a predetermined price for the vehicle that you can either accept or deny. This does not limit your buying power. Because you're buying online, you can get comparative prices between dozens of used car dealerships simultaneously to get the deal that's right for you.
Companies often use electronic signatures on car lease contracts instead of having you sign paper documents. Some used car retailers have gone from being used car dealers to simply being showrooms, allowing you to purchase a car online.
How to Buy a Used Car
Searching for the right used car could be compared to a treasure hunt. The Internet has made it easy to find a good car deal that meets your budget and needs. There are several good reasons to purchase a used car as opposed to a new one. Used cars cost less and don’t depreciate as quickly. Many used vehicles can be trouble-free for more than 100,000 miles. There are a few things to consider when searching for a used car.
Find the Right Vehicle
Finding the right vehicle can be the fun part of getting a used car. However, it does take time and planning. The used car you choose should be right for your family size and for what you want to use the car for.
Learn About the Vehicle's Reliability and Ownership Cost
Every used car model is different. Some models are known for their dependability and ease of maintenance. When looking for used cars for sale, look for used cars with warranties. They can protect you if the vehicle breaks down. Kelley Blue Book publishers report on the cost to own different vehicles, which can also be useful during your search.
Solidify Your Budget
If you're looking to get a loan to purchase a car, your car payment should not be more than 10% of your monthly take-home pay. Once you set your budget, check prices in your area. The Internet can be beneficial because it allows you to check the prices at multiple dealerships simultaneously. Certified pre-owned (CPO) vehicles may cost a little bit more, but, in the long run, they should save you money.
Test Drive the Vehicle
Test driving a used vehicle is something that you cannot do online. You will need to go and sit behind the wheel physically. During a test drive, tune out distractions and focus on important aspects of the vehicle. Is the vehicle comfortable? It should have sufficient legroom, hip room, and headroom. Check out the backseat as well to make sure that it will be comfortable for your passengers.
Evaluate the visibility of the vehicle. Look at the rear-view mirrors and side mirrors. Are there potential blind spots?
Use your nose. Do you smell burning oil, gas, or other odors that indicate something may be wrong with the vehicle? Open the hood. Watch the engine idle. You don’t need to be a car expert to know if there is something wrong with the vehicle. Are there leaks? Is the engine steaming? These could be red flags.
Check the air conditioning, headlights, brake lights, blinkers, brakes, radio, speakers, and other vehicle accessories. If you're still in doubt, you can have the vehicle professionally inspected. The inspection may cost you a couple of hundred dollars, but it could save you from major issues that you could have missed.
Best and Worst Cities to Buy a Used Car
According to Car Gurus, the best cities to buy cheap used cars are:
- Cleveland, Ohio
- Detroit, Michigan
- Miami, Florida
- New York, New York
- Orlando, Florida
- Providence, Rhode Island
- Sarasota, Florida
- Springfield, Massachusetts
- Stamford, Connecticut
- Tampa, Florida
The worst cities to buy a cheap used car are:
- Albuquerque, New Mexico
- Bakersfield, California
- El Paso, Texas
- Fresno, California
- Jackson, Mississippi
- Knoxville, Tennessee
- Portland, Oregon
- Reno, Nevada
- Seattle, Washington
- Shreveport, Louisiana
Is Buying a Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) Car Worth It?
A certified pre-owned vehicle has advantages. It's a lot less expensive than purchasing a new vehicle. When you purchase a certified pre-owned vehicle, you are purchasing a vehicle that has been inspected and that has a warranty. For many people, this provides a sense of relief because they know that if something were to go wrong with the vehicle during the warrantied time frame, they would get the vehicle repaired for free or at a reduced price. A certified pre-owned vehicle may not be right for you if you're willing to pay for a pre-purchase inspection out of your own pocket.
How to Sell Your Car for the Most Money
The newer your car, the more money you will likely get. Suppose your vehicle has notable mechanical issues. Repair them to sell your car for more. If not, be sure to disclose those issues to the seller.
You get more money if you can demonstrate to the buyer that you have cared for your car. This means presenting vehicle maintenance records.
Don’t be afraid to play the field. Check with dealers and private parties to see if someone is willing to give you a better price.
When advertising your vehicle, make it look and sound its best. Include excellent photos and descriptions. Write a description of your vehicle, highlighting its best features.
Does Mileage Matter on Used Cars?
Mileage will determine what a used car will sell for. If a vehicle has low miles, buyers will see a vehicle that they can drive longer with fewer problems. What's most important is the condition of the vehicle. Many vehicles, including some Fords, Hondas, Toyotas, and Subarus, can reliably run even after 100,000 miles.
How Do You Avoid Getting Scammed When Selling a Car?
You will need to spot red flags. Only meet with buyers in person. It is preferable not to meet with them alone. Meeting a person in a public place protects you and proves that you're meeting a legitimate buyer.
Only accept certified checks or cash. Cash is always king. However, if you're making a sale that is $2,000 or more, meet the buyer at a bank or credit union. Have them cash their check and then turn it into a cashier's check in your name.
If you're dealing with out-of-area buyers, consider escrow. Only ship the vehicle after the buyer has confirmed the funds are with the escrow service.
If you're buying or selling a vehicle, you need to do your research. The more you know about the car market in your area and the vehicle you want to purchase, the better chance you have of getting something that is right for you. Have you found a vehicle that you want but it's located in another state or city? Contact Ship a Car Direct for expert help shipping a vehicle you're buying or selling. Whether you’re needing to ship over state lines or across the country, our open and enclosed auto transport services are top-rated with competitive rates.
Frequently Asked Questions
Honest Answers to Your Car Shipping Questions
Yes, we always ask for your specific pickup and delivery addresses, if the carrier can get right to the addresses you provide, they will. If the addresses that you give us are not safely accessible for a Multi-car carrier, however, you will need to make arrangements with the driver to meet at a nearby location where the carrier can safely get in and out.
People do it all the time (rarely for free) but the official answer is no.
Not what you wanted to hear, we know, but that is the honest answer.
We are not licensed to broker the shipment of household goods and, likewise, no car carrier that operates in the USA is licensed to transport them from state to state either. Despite what you might be being told by other car shipping companies you may speak with.
Remember, at the end of the day we're all salespeople, and the true answer to this question is not a great selling point.
You will hear a lot of companies tell you that you can put up to 100 pounds of items in the trunk, but that is not entirely true. That fact is that items of that amount are fairly common and the department of transportation is probably not going to split hairs and fine the trucker over items of that amount, provided they are not over their weight limit. They could fine them, however, if they see a vehicle stuffed full of personal items so the car carrier will most likely try to negotiate something with you to cover themselves against any costs they could incur. It's not something we can build into your contract though.
We have a short and helpful video on this topic in our user videos.
Only in rare cases and car carriers will usually charge a premium to make it happen.
All dates given by car carriers are typically estimates and projections.
For this reason (and to keep your cost down) we ask that you build in some flexibility and give us the earliest possible date you would be WILLING to release the vehicle, even though it may not be your preferred date.
We'll put you in direct contact with your car carrier and the driver will also typically call you the afternoon or evening before your pick up and delivery (they won't just show up unannounced, and if they do we want to hear about it). However, car carriers are out on the road battling traffic, weather and any number of other factors that can and do throw them off of their pickup and delivery projections from time to time.
If the projected dates we give you come and you are unable to make contact with your carrier, please call our office immediately so that we may help resolve the situation.
The average transit time from pick up to delivery on any vehicle going coast to coast will average 7 to 10 days. From there you can figure your transit time based on how far your vehicle is traveling, i.e. from either coast to the Midwest might average 3-7 days.
Even better, we do not even ask for payment until we have you confirmed for pickup by a safe, reliable, fully insured, direct car carrier. If for any reason you do not ship your car with the carrier that we arrange for you, there is no fee.
The fees paid directly to the carrier however, (in most cases, their fees are not paid until your vehicle is delivered) are not directly controlled by us, so any requests for a refund of the carrier's portion would need to be addressed with the carrier directly.
Of course! And you are always backed by our Damage Free Guarantee policy.
Part of what you pay us for is to verify that the car carrier that we put you on is covered by the proper amount of insurance and that everything is up to date.
There is never any additional cost to you for this coverage, and their insurance is always primary.