For most people, buying a car is a major purchase, one that comes with many challenges. Often, car buyers struggle to decide whether to buy a new or an old car. Those who buy only new cars report that they do so because they have concerns about reliability. However, lightly used cars are often more reliable than brand-new cars. Here are a few things to consider about used cars.
A Dependability Record
Lightly used cars will have a dependability record while a first-generation vehicle hasn’t had the time to build one. It’s unknown whether a first-generation car will have expensive problems from the get-go, and this can occur. With a new car, you won’t know if it will wind up with multiple recalls. If you decide to buy a newer model used car, then there will be some history out there about the vehicle model and vehicle year.
According to Consumer Reports, new cars in the first year that they’re introduced aren’t as reliable as they could be. For instance, the assessment site determined that in the Tesla Model X’s first two years, it was reported as being an unreliable car. Buyers confirmed that the air conditioner was glitchy and that the “falcon” doors gave them problems.
There was a similar situation with the first model year of the Jaguar F-Pace SUV. Owners reported problems with the infotainment system. Some owners also confirmed that the front differential leaked.
Jake Fisher, the director of automobile testing for Consumer Reports, said, “It’s simply wrong to assume that buying a new car is going to mean the end to reliability problems.” Keep in mind that lemon laws exist for a reason.
Consider the Data
When it comes to buying a used car, it’s best to review the most recent data instead of purchasing one based on the vehicle model’s reputation. Models that have long been considered reliable may not be as solid following a year redesign. For instance, the Subaru Impreza has long had high reliability ratings, but after the carmaker redesigned the model in 2017, the reliability ratings dropped.
Consumer Reports confirmed that around 20% of people who purchased a 2017 Subaru Impreza had trouble with small things like the infotainment screens freezing up and smartphone pairing issues, which were things that weren’t happening with the 2016 model. This means that a 2016 Subaru Impreza may be a more reliable vehicle in general. If you like the redesign, then dealing with these small repairs may be worth it.
Other car manufacturers have had similar issues when redesigning old models. The assessing agency reports that the 2017 GMC Acadia and the 2017 Buick LaCrosse experienced related problems when came to how reliable each model was. In a Consumer Reports survey, the LaCrosse came with a new eight-speed transmission that gave people grief while no one reported issues with the vehicle model’s previous one. One reason for this is that technological advancements are becoming ever popular in vehicles. However, new technology is often glitchy, and it takes vehicle and technology developers time to work out the kinks, making them less reliable in some respects.
Car manufacturers are upgrading vehicles with features like eight-speed transmissions because the technology gives them more flexibility. A transmission with more speeds has more acceleration flexibility. It can give the driver peak power when needed because the extra ratios can send the engine into its best operating spot. When the driver doesn’t require as much power from the engine, the transmission can climb to a higher gear that stops the engine from running as hard. This decreases fuel consumption.
If you want to take advantage of the cost savings that come with buying a used car but have concerns surrounding how reliable the vehicle is, then take a few research steps. When you come across a tempting used vehicle, research its reliability ratings. If it’s a first-year model or a vehicle that the manufacturer has just redesigned, consider how old the car is now before purchasing it. Cars that are a few years old have had time to prove their reliability while autos that are only a few months old have not. If you are buying a used car, consider getting one that still has a warranty.
When it comes to warranties, you can always add one on your own. Today, you can get a used car that comes with benefits that are equal to those that come with new cars. This includes extensive warranties, loaner cars when your used vehicle requires maintenance and included maintenance. These add-ons can provide peace of mind for used car buyers. Even if you’re purchasing a used car that comes with a warranty, it’s still a good idea to take it to an independent mechanic for a complete inspection.
You can check the VIN online to see if there are any outstanding recalls. Also, request a vehicle history report from the seller, one from a company like Carfax or AutoCheck. Reports from these companies are helpful because they may confirm how often previous owners of a vehicle maintained it, but a clean history report from one of them is not complete confirmation that the car has never been damaged or had a repair.
A major reason to avoid a first-year car is that you may miss out on later improvements, including ones that increase the vehicle’s reliability. For instance, a car manufacturer may determine that a different knob on a gear shifter is easier to manage or a particular technology, such as tire inflation detection, may extend the life span of a part, so they add them onto later year models.
Another reason to purchase a lightly used car instead of a new one is depreciation. You can purchase a new car for $30,000, and three years later, it’s worth half as much. On the other hand, if you purchase that same 3-year-old car for $15,000, you could sell it three years later for around $10,000. In this case, you lose $5,000 instead of $15,000. You may even be able to save up the total amount that you need to buy the car rather than financing it.
Insurance companies usually insure used cars for less because they determine rates based on the vehicle’s value. You can also decrease your collision and comprehensive coverage to lower your insurance rates more, because this is the part of your insurance that covers vehicle repairs. Your registration fees will be less as well. States charge less to register older vehicles.
You may be able to get more bells and whistles with a slightly used vehicle than you would by getting a new one. This also comes down to cost. Purchasing an upgraded new car that comes with top technology and safety features is never cheap, but you may be able to get many of the same upgrades and gear on a used car that’s only a year or two old.
How to Shop for a Used Car
When you’re considering a used car, be sure to inspect the entire vehicle. Make note of any dents, scratches or rust. A small amount of wear and tear is acceptable, but if you see large areas of damage, reconsider the purchase because this indicates how a previous owner treated the vehicle. Owners who mistreat the exterior may have abused the interior and failed to maintain it.
Assess the body panels and make sure that they are evenly aligned. If they aren’t, the vehicle may have been in a collision. Open and close the hood, trunk and each door. Pay attention to the ease in which each part moves.
You should also check the tires and notice if they are the same brand. If different brands are on the used car, this could be a warning sign. Be sure to ask the seller why they are different. Inspect each tire individually to see if there are scuffs, cracks or protuberances. Check the tire tread, and ask about the frequency of tire rotations.
Make sure that all the lights work. Remember to check the high beams, reverse lights and brake lights. Inspect the light housings. Confirm that they are intact without damage or cracks. Also, look for moisture.
Assess the interior. Smell the inside, and if it smells moldy or musty, then it may have experienced water damage. Sit in each seat and make a few adjustments to make sure that they are operating as they should. Check the controls and look at the roof closely. It’s also important to inspect the engine by looking at hoses and checking the fluid.
The Benefits of Buying Used
The advantages of buying a used car range from saving money to getting more luxury features. When you buy a used vehicle, you have the advantage of time proving that the vehicle year is dependable. You’re likely to enjoy driving around in a nice used car as much as you would a new one while keeping more money in your budget.