Is This the Best Time to Buy a Used Car?

Used Car Buying

Only if you want a great deal on a great car.

There has never been an era like this one in the auto industry: Quality and reliability are at an all time high, prices have remained low (in 2006 I paid $45,000 for my Toyota Highlander Hybrid Limited, the same price it sells for today) and most cars are filled with great new technology.

And, in 2015 the auto industry was approaching a record sales year and many of the cars sold were leases.

That means that in 2018 those cars will come flooding back into the market and could be priced to move. While values differ from model to model—the resale market for pick up trucks, for instance, is very small because most truck buyers don’t resell them; Subarus tend to have a very high resale value and Teslas sell used for about what they cost new—in general, this could be a great time to get a car for half it’s new sticker price.

11 tips for buying a used car ?

2015 Hyundai Sonata Sport

It’s smooth sailing in the 2015 Hyundai Sonata Sport.

But Don’t Dawdle, Because it May Not Last Long

The Federal Reserve System, which regulates interest rates, is making noise that rates are about to go up. This means that a loan on a used car could soon cost more; one percentage point could cost $800 over the life of the loan, according to Cox Automotive’s Charlie Chesbrough.

However, rates are still low and for buyers with good credit, the timing is great for buying a used car. Here are some basics for navigating this market

Yes, I bought my car with my phone!

Certified Pre-Owned: Yes, Maybe.

Many brands, especially luxury brands, offer a Certified Pre-Owned option on used cars. A CPO typically includes several things: An extended warranty, a thorough inspection, and replacement of parts that are due or need to be replaced. Some CPOs even will have new tires and windshield wipers.

CPOs are great for cars that can be expensive to maintain, such a BMW or Mercedes-Benz. For cars that have a lower maintenance cost, such as Honda or Toyota, a CPO can be more of a premium feature than a hedge against future repairs. If you’re looking at a CPO, compare pricing to a non-CPO of the same model, year, mileage and features. If the difference is minimal, the CPO may offer peace of mind.

Buying a car for a teen? What you need to consider first

Pre-Sale Inspection: Definitely

2015 Kia Sedona

So stylish you won’t believe how little you paid for it. Photo: Rebecca Darling

This is so easy it’s criminal if you don’t do it. Ask to take any used car you’re considering buying to an independent mechanic. Make an appointment with the mechanic, then present your driver’s license and insurance on your current car to the dealer, sign a waiver and drive it to the mechanic.

The shop should be able to read the onboard diagnostics computer, get the maintenance history and put it on the lift to see if its underpinnings look good. A mechanic can see flood damage, evidence of a crash and more that isn’t visible to the novice eye.

CarFax: Know Your Car’s History Or Be Doomed to Repeat It

2015 Buick Regal

The sleek, sporty Buick Regal sedan. Photo: Judy Antell

A car that has been properly maintained should have all or most of the maintenance reported via the VIN number, which shows up on CarFax. If a car was flooded, crashed or had other significant repairs, this should show up too. Notice we said should. This isn’t always the case, since CarFax relies on accurate reporting. Look for gaps in reporting or inconsistencies as a flag that not all maintenance and repairs were reported.

Don’t Forget the Recall Check!

It’s still a huge issue that there are used cars for sale with open recalls. And that’s not necessarily a problem, but it is important to know. If the recall is something small or a notice, rather than a recall, is issued, ask the seller to make the repair before you buy. Having a deal on a car that needs a recall should be an incentive for the dealer to get it done quickly!

2015 Ford Fusion

The comfortable and reliable 2015 Ford Fusion

Finding Rock Bottom Deals To Save You Money! ?

We did some of the homework for you. We tapped Kelley Blue Book’s used car value calculator and looked up some of the 2015 models we reviewed and compared new versus used prices. And, click the link below to see what we thought of these cars when they were new.

2015 Buick Enclave – 50% off

New Price $53,000; KBB used price: $27,000 What we thought when it was new.

2015 Chevrolet Tahoe – 26% off

New Price $44,000; KBB used price: $32,592 What we thought when it was new.

2015 KIA Sedona – 60% off  

New Price: $39,700; KBB used price: $16,351 What we thought when it was new.

2015 Ford Fusion – 60% off

New Price: $32,600; KBB used price: $12,730 What we thought when it was new.

2015 Buick Regal – 64% off

New Price: $39,660; KBB used price: $14,243 What we thought when it was new

2015 Hyundai Sonata – 54% off

New Price: $28,575; KBB used price: $13,209 What we thought when it was new.

Journalist, entrepreneur and mom. Expertise includes new cars, family cars, 3-row SUVs, child passenger car seats and automotive careers... More about Scotty Reiss