Even with today’s powerful online car shopping resources, which can bring up listings from Anchorage to Atlanta with the tap of a finger, most new and used car purchases are still made within ten miles from home. But traveling further in pursuit of the perfect car or the best deal is becoming increasingly common.
According to Automotive News, a leading industry trade publication, “The average distance that a buyer travels has risen steadily since the Internet became an important tool for many shoppers.” And the phenomenon is causing a growing number of people to cross state lines to find the right car, truck, or SUV — especially rare and hard-to-find models.
However, there are many things to know before buying a car, new or used, out of state. Here we’ll cover the pros and cons of such a transaction and help you avoid making some common mistakes.
Every car buying expert will tell you the same thing. Don’t buy a used car without reading its vehicle history report thoroughly and carefully.
It’s good advice. Unless the used car in question has always belonged to your uncle Harry, a vehicle history report is the only way for you to learn about the life it has led. A vehicle history report lists the car’s prior maintenance, repairs, accidents, owners, and locations. It’s part report card, part biography, and part memoir. It can tell you if that SUV is a lemon, if that pickup truck has had an airbag deployment, or if that little red convertible has really lived a pampered life by the beach.
There are two major brands of vehicle history reports out there, Autocheck and CARFAX. However, CARFAX is the most well known and by far the most popular. CARFAX reports are also the most comprehensive, and it’s the brand used by the vast majority of America’s used car dealers, both big and small, as well as most private used car sellers. CARFAX vehicle history reports are used so universally that the name has become synonymous with any vehicle history report, like Kleenex is for a facial tissue or Xerox for copiers.
But what should you look for when reading a vehicle history report? And how do you to scrutinize the info to ensure the seller is being honest? We’ll answer those questions and more, but first let’s cover the basics.
Things have gone well. The IPO sold out 20 minutes after the market opened, smart accountants have sheltered your accumulated wealth in several creative ways, your health is good, the house is paid for and the pool cleaning guy comes every single day because, dang it, you like a clean pool. Now’s the time to dip a bucket into your river of revenue and buy your first million-dollar car. Or two-million or three-million or, hey why not, go deep into eight figures for that perfectly extravagant used car.
Back in March 2019 Bugatti sold what it says is the most expensive new car of all time – the single “La Voiture Noire” went to a “Bugatti enthusiast” for $12.5 million. But that’s an anomaly. The world’s most expensive cars aren’t new, they’re used. Often well-used too, doing things like winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans, earning world championships and hauling movie stars from Malibu to MGM and back in the 1930s. Noble work.
But classics, no matter for how much they trade hands, are still also used cars. Big prices don’t patch leaking gaskets, rust doesn’t know it’s dining on Ferrari steel, and you can’t store a car in a safe deposit box. And if you’re not happy before you drop seven figures on a car, that car isn’t likely to make you happy just because you own it. Living life with money doesn’t guarantee anything beyond being able to afford what you like.
That in mind, a million-dollar car has its own challenges. There’s a reason a car sells for a million dollars, and it’s not because it’s a Camry. A hyper-expensive car will certainly be rare, definitely high-profile, likely powerful, probably temperamental and usually pricey to maintain. There’s nothing normal about a classic. Except the normal things.
We’re no doubt preaching to the choir here, but there are lots of great reasons for buying an older used car.
If you’re nostalgic for the style of a past era, these vehicles will satisfy your thirst for vintage design. For example, there’s no denying the elegance of a classic Jaguar.
In some cases, older used cars offer performance benefits that are hard to duplicate in newer models. Case in point: With its high-revving, naturally aspirated V8 and sonorous engine note, the E39 generation BMW M5 delivers a driving experience that’s one of a kind.
Finally, buying an older used car may allow you to take a big step up when it comes to your choice of vehicle. Thanks to depreciation, older used cars are just a fraction of the cost of their new counterparts. Hardly anyone can afford a brand new Mercedes-Benz SL roadster, but one that’s 10 or 15 years old can be had for used Camry money.
While we do advise paying cash for a used car rather than financing it, we recognize that not everyone is in a position to do that. So if you are going to make your purchase with the help of an auto loan, it’s important to know that there are significant differences between financing a new vehicle and an older used car.
Because financing an older used car comes with a unique set of challenges, we’ve compiled this comprehensive guide to help you navigate the process from start to finish.
It would have been rare a few years ago for hybrids to show up on most used-car shopping lists. There weren’t that many in the market, and there wasn’t much choice.
Toyota’s hybrids dominated, with gas-electric models from Honda and Ford in distant second and third place.
But stuff happens. Things change.
Today there’s a wide selection of used hybrids available, from almost every manufacturer. Because of their often-stellar fuel efficiency, plus the high-end trim and standard equipment levels among many of the more recent models, they are cars – and crossovers, SUVs, and trucks – that most every used-car shopper should consider.
You’ve done your research, and you’ve identified the make and model of the used car you wish to purchase.
But you didn’t stop there, you busy beaver. You’ve also taken a look at local inventory, and you’ve found a few vehicles in your area that are qualified candidates. There’s even one in the exact color you want.
At this point, your excitement level is probably high. There’s a rush of adrenaline that comes with knowing you’re this close to finding a car that seems like a perfect match for your needs.
But don’t let those happy feelings lead to a rash decision. There are still a few final steps to take before you pull the trigger.
A couple of decades ago, the search for a used vehicle began with hours spent squinting through the classifieds. You’d then head out to get a closer look at each candidate, and this could involve fending off aggressive salespeople at local used car dealerships or mumbling through awkward interactions with private party sellers. Then along came the Internet, an innovation that allowed us to search for used cars online.
In many ways, the Internet has simplified the process of shopping for a used car. But it can also make this task more overwhelming. There’s an almost endless selection of websites offering to help you select your next pre-owned vehicle, and you may find yourself drowning in a sea of information and choices. These sites aren’t all cut from the same cloth, and knowing which ones you can rely on can be tricky.
That’s where we come in. Here at Klipnik, we live and breathe used cars, and we’ve explored pretty much every used car resource available. Below (in alphabetical order), we’ve listed the sites that we find ourselves returning to over and over again and which have earned our stamp of approval. They provide all of the assistance you could ever need to find and buy the used car of your dreams.
Buying a used car is smart for a variety of reasons, and one of the best is that it saves you a ton of money. This is fairly obvious, right? But you might be surprised by exactly how much cash that new car is costing you. Let’s explore.
Sure, new cars are lovely, shiny things, as yet unsullied by parking lot dings and travel mug mishaps. But their values drop — precipitously — especially in the first few years of their lives.
This, friends, is known as depreciation, and it’s the surest way to kiss your hard-earned money goodbye, short of setting it aflame.
If you are considering the purchase of a gently-used older car — perhaps something like the 51k-mile Mercedes-Benz S-class pictured above, which originally stickered for sixty grand but recently sold on eBay for just $5300, or even just a practical family hauler that you plan to drive until the wheels fall off — congratulations. You are well on your way to eliminating from your budget the costliest of all car ownership expenses.
However, there’s more to buying an older car than just forking over some cash and autographing the title. While you won’t be signing up for staggering new car payments or steep depreciation, you will have to navigate a few other pitfalls inherent to a taking on a second-hand vehicle.
So before you click Buy It Now on that oh-so-tempting auction, take a moment to consider these five important — and perhaps surprising — guidelines. They will help to ensure that you end up with a car which is not only cheap to acquire but also a joy to own and drive for many years to come.Continue reading →
Buying a used car is not only the best way to get the most car for your money; it also helps you dodge a massive hit from depreciation. And, in some cases, older models are actually better than newer ones.
However, no matter how well you do your research or how great an example you find, a used car is a complex machine with pieces that, after five or ten (or more) years on the road, are sometimes going to break.
That’s why you should make identifying a great local mechanic the very first step in your used car buying process.