Reading : 5 minutes
Nov 21, 2022

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.

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