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Top misconceptions and myths about buying a used car

Are you buying a used car and concerned about the stigmas often attached to purchasing pre-owned? Don’t be. The truth is “used” cars that have been well taken care of can seem almost brand new. As a matter of fact, at first glance you may not even be able to tell that the auto had a prior owner.

If you’re still not convinced, consider the following seven myths often associated with buying a used car.

1. You must pay cash in order to score a good deal

While cash will certainly save you on interest charges, you generally won’t get any better deal by paying with cash. When it comes to auto financing, purchasing a used vehicle isn’t much different than a new one. Your credit score and down payment determine the interest rate you’ll be paying.

2. Something must be wrong with the car

People trade in cars for a wide variety of reasons that have nothing to do with the reliability of the vehicles. For instance, the previous owner may be accommodating an expanding family [1] or downsizing to a smaller vehicle.

If you’re concerned about a car, it’s easy to check out its history with a vehicle history report [2]. This will answer all of your questions and more. You’ll find out vital information such as if the car has been in any accidents, and if there has been any flood or fire damage.

3. Used cars lack important safety features

Unless you’re buying a classic or antique car that dates back to the 1970s or earlier, you can stop worrying about the vehicle not being safe enough. Used cars generally feature critical safety features like antilock brake systems (ABS) and side air bags.

If you want to check out the safety aspects of the used car you’re considering, look up the vehicle on the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s Highway Loss Data Institute website [3].

4. A new car is a better investment

You’ve heard the adage that a new car loses value as soon as you drive it off the lot? That isn’t a myth. The fact is that a new car rapidly loses its value. New vehicles have an average 20 percent dip in value [4] within the first year of ownership. Within five years, the car has lost, on average, 60 percent of its value.

Buy a used car with low mileage [5] at a good price and you’ve got yourself a much better investment. An added bonus is that you’re likely to pay lower registration fees on a used car, which makes the purchase an even more economical investment.

5. The car could be unreliable

The fact that a car is used has very little to do with the vehicle’s reliability. Most cars today are reliable. If the car has required frequent repairs for the same problem, that will show up on the vehicle history report, which includes service history.

6. You’re not likely to get a warranty

If you buy a used car from a private party, you generally won’t get a warranty. However, many dealers do provide warranties [6]. Some of those warranties rival those of new car warranty programs. Before shopping for a used car, check with the dealer about available warranty programs.

7. Used cars guzzle gas

The amount of fuel a vehicle uses depends on a variety of factors. The size of the car’s engine has a big impact on how much fuel the car uses. For instance, a vehicle with a 2.4-L engine will exhibit better fuel efficiency [7] than a car with a V6 engine. Well maintained cars also tend to experience better gas mileage. These factors have a bigger impact on fuel use than the age of the car.

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