How to Buy a Used Car

Rich Fitzer
English 1803-060
December 7, 1998

Within the next year I will probably be buying a used car. In writing this paper, I wanted to learn as much as I could about the process of purchasing a used car so that I will be able to get the best possible vehicle. Less than a month ago my mom bought the car of her dreams, a convertible. She was able to afford this normally expensive car because she bought it used. A year before that my dad was able to afford a high-end luxury car because he also purchased a used vehicle. Most people look upon buying a used car as an unpleasant experience. It can be difficult to find the vehicle you want and negotiating a price can be frustrating. However, it is much cheaper to buy a used car than it is to buy a new car. There is always concern that while you can save a lot of money buying a used car, you could be buying someone else’s lemon. If you do your homework this can be avoided. I will take you through the buying process, give you some pointers, and try to make the experience a little less confusing. I will also tell you how I went about learning all of this information.
There is a lot to do when buying a used car. You have to decide where to buy your vehicle: will it be a new car dealer, a used car lot, a private party, or another location? You must find out what the going price is for the car. You will have to get the car inspected. The following three topics will help you negotiate your way through the buying process.

1. Where to buy used cars and trucks
2. How to negotiate your price when buying a used car or truck
3. How to inspect and evaluate a used vehicle

To find out this information the first place that I went was the internet. . I already had a base knowledge from helping my parents buy their pre-owned vehicles. By using search engines I was able to figure out a lot about used cars. There were literally hundreds of sights on how to buy used cars. These sites answered many of my questions.
In doing my research I found that there are lots of places to buy used vehicles. Of the estimated nineteen million used cars, vans, and trucks that are sold every year in the US and Canada, about seven million will be sold by new car dealers, another 2 million will move through independent used car lots, and eight million will be sold by private parties. The rest will be sold directly by rental car companies or through government auctions.
My parents both bought their used cars from new car dealerships. This is usually the most expensive option. On the other hand, new car dealers have large selections, especially of the make they sell. And if you buy a car in which they have expertise, you can take advantage of their service department. This can be important if the dealer gives you any kind of warranty. My mom found this to be very helpful when the dealership was able to fix her keyless entry remote at no charge. If you buy a car that the dealer does not sell as a new car, you may be relying on a service department that does not know your vehicle. Also, dealers are businesses. Unlike a private party who may sell one used car every five years, dealers have to consider their reputation in the community. If they displease too many people, they will lose business.
Finally, federal and state laws regulate dealers. While this does not assure satisfaction, regulations give you and the dealer a set of rules for playing the game. For example, dealers have to ensure that the vehicles they sell meet all basic state and federal requirements. That means the brakes, lights, and emissions systems are guaranteed to work.
Like new car dealers, used car dealers (independent dealers not affiliated with a manufacturer) have to ensure the vehicles they sell meet minimum federal and state requirements. They do not have the overhead of a new car dealer and generally operate on thinner