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Why Your Next Car Should Be a Used Car

Why Your Next Car Should Be a Used Car

You won’t get far in this country without a car. America’s car ownership rate is high and still rising, and it’s not hard to see why. We live in a car-centric culture, and most of us need a car to commute to work and handle other essential tasks. What’s a little less obvious is how all of these people can afford cars. New car prices have risen 29 percent over the past 10 years, and car costs — as well as auto loan amounts — are at all-time highs. Unfortunately, the number of Americans who are behind on their car payments is also frighteningly high.

So when it comes time for you to buy your next car, it’s fair to wonder how you’ll be able to afford this thing. How much can you spend before you end up in debt? Isn’t there any way to keep the cost down?

Well, here’s one great way: Buy a used car.

Buy used and save big

The fact that used cars are, in many cases, more affordable than new ones is a huge and obvious reason to choose used vehicles. Buying a new car isn’t necessarily a good deal even if you can afford one; thanks to the strange rules of car depreciation, your brand-new car will plummet in value the moment you drive it off the dealership lot. What other product would you buy if you were told its value would drop the moment you acquired it? That’s not much of a sales pitch.

Of course, paying less doesn’t always mean that you’re getting less. By letting some other suckers own the car during its steepest moment of depreciation, you can get a really good deal on some really impressive cars.

Used cars galore

Not every used car is a good deal, though, and when you limit your search to used car dealerships, you’re likely to come up empty. In the case of used cars even more than new ones, car dealerships can really only offer you what they have in stock. You could expand your search by looking at cars being sold directly by their owners, but that’s risky — there’s no guarantee that you won’t end up with a lemon.

Happily, thanks to the rise of online car marketplaces like Auto Auction Mall, dealership lots are no longer the only reputable places to find used cars. It’s now a breeze to use your computer to expand your used car search to a much broader selection. More options mean more chances that you find the perfect fit in your price range.

Finding the “sweet spot”

Not all used cars are the same. In some cases, lightly used cars can be so pricey that buying them used seems silly. Extremely budget-conscious buyers will find that there’s an opposite side of the spectrum, too: Some cheap clunkers are so used up that they’ll barely run, and that means that you had better hold onto the money you saved by buying one; you’ll need it for the mechanic’s bills. When you shop, you’d better think about the whole cost of owning a car, not just the price of the vehicle.

Heavily used cars aren’t much good unless you’re looking for salvage vehicles, and ones fresh off of a lease may seem too pricey to be worth it. But there is a “sweet spot” between very old and very new cars, and finding it will allow you to maximize your value. Ideally, you want a car that is new enough to feel comfortable and full of modern amenities. You want it to be used and affordable, but not used up; you want a car that the prior owner took care of.

And, thanks to vehicle history reports and a wealth of other car-related information online, you can find these “sweet spot” vehicles and land the perfect car in your price range. Do your research, shop smart, and make your next car a used car.