Buying a used car is a great way to save money when you need a “new-to-you” car. You can save potentially thousands of dollars, as well as lessen the sting of depreciation when buying used vs. buying new. While all of these things are great, buying a used car is still an expensive investment. If you’re in the market for a used car, these four tips will help you keep more money in your pocket.
Beef Up That Down Payment
Car buyers often shop with a number in mind. This number is the monthly payment they want. This is understandable, but it overlooks one of the best ways to save money on a used car – the down payment.
The amount you put down on your car has a direct impact on your monthly payment, as it means you have to borrow less to finance the car. With the average used car loan being 63 months, as of 2016, the more you put down means a shorter loan term, and thus increased savings. It may be painful now, but saving more for a down payment will save you money in the long run.
Shop for the Best Interest Rate
Interest rate plays just as significant of a role in your overall car payment, as does the down payment. In fact, you may even be able to get a lower interest rate with a larger down payment, lowering the overall amount you spend on a used car as you’ll have a shorter loan term.
With this in mind, it pays to shop around for interest rates. You can use your local bank, online lenders, or even Carvana to secure the best interest rate.
Avoid the Certified Pre-Owned Trap
Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) cars have risen in popularity over the past few decades. Seen as a way to give the newer car experience for less money, they can be a great way to protect against buying a lemon.
Unfortunately, CPO cars come with a premium vs. a non-CPO used car. “Buying certified pre-owned can tack on anywhere from $500 to a couple of thousand dollars to the price of a used car,” says Bankrate.com. How can you get a used car, but still have peace of mind without that CPO sticker? You find a non-CPO car you like and pay an independent mechanic to inspect the car. In many instances, you’ll find a car of equal reliability and stash the savings where it belongs – back in your pocket.
Shop the Right Manufacturer
Buying a used car brings with it an unknown. The last thing you want is for that unknown to develop into a problem that will cost you thousands of dollars to repair. Not all cars are created equal, so it pays to do your homework when buying a used car.
“When trying to identify the most reliable makes and models, be sure to look at awards, indexes and reports that rank vehicles on real-life repairs versus just first-year-ownership opinion surveys,” says Kristin Brocoff, Director CarMD.com. You can find much of this information online, making it easy to get the data you need to make an informed decision. Brocoff also points out the importance of knowing what brands to look for, revealing that, “a recent Vehicle Health Index found that Toyota, Honda and Nissan rank highest when it comes to repair frequency…Hyundai, Mazda and Kia tend to have some of the lowest average repair costs.” This isn’t to say these are the only reliable or low repair cost cars, but it can help drive you to a lower cost over the life of a car.