From the Desk of Beaverton’s Car Guy
Before you hand over your hard-earned cash, you first must prepare. The infinite variables that accompany a used car purchase can make this even more difficult. On the preliminary list of “need-to-knows” are a used car’s make, model, mileage and purpose. Choosing prospective makes and models of vehicles can be a tiring and frustrating process, but if you want a car that will last more than a month, there are some simple steps you can take to ensure your purchase will be a wise one.
1. Look around you on the highways and parking lots. If you see a certain vehicle in abundance on the roads, it usually means the car has a good track record and that’s why it stays on the road longer.
2. Do your own research. Hundreds of publications list the reliability of vehicles. “Consumer Reports” tests the reliability of thousands of products every year, and automobiles are one of their specialties. Taking a look at their guide to the most (and least) reliable used cars is very enlightening. They also perform tests on important things that you would be unable to do for yourself. For example, it would be almost impossible for you to know how many times a used vehicle could break down over the course of ownership.
3. Obviously, a used car comes with some baggage. Set a reasonable goal for yourself regarding mileage and wear-and-tear on your prospective vehicle. Consider things like a factory warranty. A vehicle that is only a couple of years old and has, say, approximately 20k miles on it, is likely to have a good bit of a factory warranty remaining. A good consideration for this vehicle may be purchasing an extended warranty or mechanical breakdown insurance policy.
4. Why do you need it? How many miles do you think you’ll be putting on the car? If it’s reliability you need, your decision is easy. If you need a reliable vehicle that also has dual airbags, seven cup holders and a four-speed automatic, these details will further narrow down your search and make the choice even easier. So take into account your needs when you research models so you know what is standard fare on the vehicle in question.
5. Unlike new cars, used cars can’t be ordered to your preference. In some ways, you have to “luck out” to get the ideal vehicle. But keeping your eyes and ears open helps. Start your used-car search, before your vehicle need is critical so you can keep your options open (and possibly stumble upon a sweet deal).
Lastly, like the commercial says, always ask to see the CARFAX on any pre-owned vehicle you may be considering. This could prevent you from purchasing someone else’s headache.