5 Things You Should Know Before Buying a Used Car

There can be a lot of uncertainty about buying a used car. Everyone wants a great deal, and no one wants to be one of the ones who buys a dud.

Ranging from shady dealerships to the private owner who is unsure how to properly maintain their vehicle—or worse, who knows something’s wrong but tries to downplay or hide it from you when you’re buying from them—navigating the minefield of purchasing your next car is a daunting task.

Here are five things you should know to not only survive the shopping experience with no regrets but to make sure you’re only considering the very best used vehicles out there.

The Basics for Finding the Best Used Vehicles

The first things you should make sure you have down are your budget and your list of acceptable makes and models. Narrow these down to your favorite before you even look at a car.

Now that that’s done, you’re starting to glance at some real vehicles in person. This is where you need to know what to look for physically.

Inspect the engine for wear and corrosion and the inside and outside of the vehicle. Cleanliness is to be expected, but it won’t affect the way the best used vehicles function—and even the shadiest sellers will know to make it look good.

Check the underside for rust, listen to the sound of the engine without the music on (and the way it sounds running both cold and warmed-up), inspect the body for dents and damage, and the quality and wear level of the tires. Note the alignment, exhaust color, and any odd sounds during your test drive.

This will be a good initial method for determining if the used vehicle you’re looking at is worth spending more time on.

Determine the Value of the Vehicle for your Area

There are many tools out there for determining the dollar value of the best used vehicles on the market. Kelley Blue Book values are one of the more popular measurements.

The cost of a car will differ from area to area slightly. Find out what the going rate for the make and model you want around your home. A quick glance at a few of these measurements will get you in the right ballpark to deal from a position of strength.

Google Common Issues

Used car buyers, take heed, this one is vital. You don’t want to buy your ideal car and only find out afterward about the fatal flaw in the engine that people see cropping up after five years.

Google (or your search engine of choice) is the easy way to find the horror stories people have endured so you don’t have to.

While you’re at this step, look for recall notices from the manufacturer as well.


Though sometimes work is done on a vehicle without it being logged in the CarFax, this is a generally reliable way to see the car’s history.

For the best used vehicles, you’ll want to see how many owners there have been—one prior owner is best—and if the car’s endured any major work on it.

Don’t always take CarFax or AutoCheck as the be-all and end-all of buying a car, but make sure you see it to at least get some of the story the vehicle has to tell.

Know What Pre-Owned Means

Buying a used car has its pitfalls, but there is at least one major benefit. Just having the word ‘pre-owned’ attached to it usually means you can get a great deal.

Even if the car is only 1 year old, the value of it will have dropped by roughly 25% on average. Buying this way means you are essentially getting a new car at a quarter the price off the original cost.

Not bad at all.

While ‘used car’ can conjure up images of old beaters for some, if you know what you’re doing, it should have you imagining what you’re going to spend all that money you’re saving on instead.

Let Us Help

Now that you know what to look for before you buy, let us give you a hand with the rest. Do your homework, but we at Terry Auto Group have already done most of the work for you, too.

Come on into one of our dealerships and talk to our experienced sales staff. We are committed to helping you find the very best used vehicles for your needs.

Please contact us for information regarding vehicles in our inventory or to schedule a test drive. We’re certain we can find you a used or new car you’ll love for years.