An Open Road and a Broader Perspective: Shining New Light on Used Vehicles


What do you think of when you hear the term “used car”? For many, these words may bring to mind the image of a lonely, rusted-out clunker parked at the far edge of a lot, perhaps missing a rim, maybe sporting a broken window. A smarmy salesperson, usually a man, hikes up a pair of plaid trousers and smiles, a strained expression that manages to be both unctuous and condescending simultaneously.

These circumstances may still exist somewhere, but they are no longer the norm. Modern car buyers can savor the benefits of buying a pre-owned vehicle and shop with confidence. In this new era of technology-heavy consumerism, used cars have a new image.

Pennies in Your Pocket

Buying a used car today makes good financial sense. In addition to the obvious point that new vehicles cost more than pre-owned vehicles, their cost is increased by numerous extra fees.

  • Shipping charges
  • Destination costs
  • Dealer preparation work
  • Sales tax
  • Installation of unnecessary dealer options
  • High auto registration fees

Second-hand vehicles not only offer lower upfront costs, but they also give you more power as a consumer. You will no longer be at the mercy of dealers’ whims, and you can save even more by avoiding expensive fees and paying lower registration costs. A quality used car can be a smart buy, especially for first-time buyers.

Pitfalls of Believing in Certified Second-Hand Autos

While used vehicles are often a great choice, beware of blindly buying certified pre-owned cars. These choices come with benefits such as loaner vehicles, roadside assistance, and limited warranties. Many buyers choose these vehicles so they can rest easy about buying a used automobile. However, these types of cars may not be all buyers think they are.

  • Higher cost than non-certified used autos
  • Higher expectations and risk of disappointment
  • Advertised major inspection does not mean the vehicle had a major overhaul
  • Certified pre-owned vehicles are still used
  • Buyers may become complacent in checking a vehicle’s condition if it is certified, thus missing problematic damage

If you want a certified pre-owned automobile, go to a dealer, and always take time to check out the vehicle yourself. The principle of caveat emptor—“Let the buyer beware”—still applies.

Smart Upgrades Are Financially Savvy

Choosing a second-hand vehicle that is like new is a great way to improve your ride without paying a fortune. You can upgrade affordably with a used car and drive the automobile of your dreams. If you have always wanted a certain type of vehicle—an SUV, for example—buying a pre-owned model lets you get what you want without depleting your bank account.

Appreciate Depreciation

If you are still on the fence about a new car versus a used one, consider depreciation. While many things about the used car industry have changed, the saying that a new car depreciates instantly when it leaves the lot is still true. Statistics calculate which population segments are buying cars, including purchases of used automobiles compared with new models, although they do not analyze the benefits and disadvantages of each category or what factors to consider, including depreciation.

Certainly, the idea of letting the first automobile owner shoulder the initial loss in value is careful money management. When a vehicle is only a few years old, you can buy that same car for half the original purchase price without suffering large losses due to depreciation. Your used vehicle will still depreciate, but not at the rate it did when it was new.

A Car-Buying Revolution

Used cars are the new black in the auto industry. While you may like the way new cars smell, how much is that expensive scent worth to you? Hundreds of dollars? Thousands? Increasingly, car buyers are choosing to take back their power by doing a bit of research and then purchasing a quality used vehicle that will take them down the road without emptying their wallets.

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