For smart car consumers, pre-owned vehicles are a steal, providing top-shelf features and amenities at a discount price. Modern cars have better longevity than ever, and a pre-owned vehicle with 50,000 miles or more is just at the beginning of its useful lifecycle. Learning to identify the best pre-owned vehicles will ensure auto consumers get the most for their investment.
According to NBC News, the average lifespan of a vehicle today is eight years or 150,000 miles. Many moderately well-maintained vehicles have even greater longevity, some lasting 300,000 miles or more. Because of improvements in vehicle longevity, purchasing used cars is a great option for value-seeking car consumers.
Not all vehicles are created equal, and some used vehicles are much better than others. Some have more wear and tear, and some are made by more reliable manufacturers than others. If you’re a Indiana resident shopping used car dealers in Indianapolis for a pre-owned vehicle, consider these tips for picking the right one:
- Take a look at the body condition – Walk around the vehicle and look for dings, dents, scratches, or rust. Conduct your inspection in mid-day so you’ll have plenty of light to spot any problem areas. While every vehicle is likely to have a few small dings here and there, large areas of scratches, rust, and dents are an indicator of how poorly the previous owner took care of the vehicle.
Be sure to take a look at the vehicle’s body panels. If they do not line up evenly, it often means that the vehicle has been involved in an accident. Other tell-tale signs are doors and trunks that do not open and shut properly.
- Inspect the tires – When you purchase a used vehicle, make sure the dealer gives you a decent set of tires to drive off the lot. Inspect each tire and determine whether the sidewall has scuffs, cracks, or bulges. Also ensure that the vehicle has adequate tire tread. An easy way to do this is by inserting a quarter head-down into a tread. If you can see the top of George Washington’s head, you need a new tire.
- The smell test – Sniff around the interior of the vehicle. Get a whiff of the air in the cabin and also do a quick sniff test of the seats. If you detect a moldy smell, there is a good chance that the vehicle has a water leak or has been flood damaged. If you notice a moldy or musty smell, check for water spots. Water damage can be very detrimental to vehicle interiors and should be a red flag for car buyers.
- Check the instruments – Make sure the speedometer and all other instruments in the vehicle work properly. If the vehicle has cruise control, test it to make sure it works. Also check power windows, locks, and seats to ensure they’re in good working order. Touch screens and other digital readouts also need to be inspected to ensure they are functioning. While you shouldn’t always walk away from a used vehicle just because the clock isn’t functioning, you should be able to get the dealer to make repairs or negotiate the price down if you spot minor issues.
- Look under the hood – You don’t have to be a mechanic to do a basic inspection of a used car’s inner workings. Take a look at the vehicle’s belts and hoses to determine whether they are cracked or have holes.
Unscrew the radiator reservoir cap to check the liquid. It should be green or orange. If it is rusty colored or milky, this can indicate radiator problems. The radiator itself should be free of any green or orange stains, as these are indicators of a leak.
Also be sure to check the vehicle’s oil, transmission fluid, power steering fluid, and brake fluid. These fluids should be topped off, clean, and the proper color. If they’re not, it may indicate a problem. Oil is typically dark brown or black, while transmission fluid is usually pink.
- The test drive – When you test drive a used vehicle, be sure to do a thorough job. Drive the vehicle in urban conditions and also get it out on the highway. Listen carefully for stutters, or skipping, as this can indicate engine trouble. Also be sure that the vehicle brakes properly, that the lights and other features work, and that it offers a comfortable ride. Take a look out the rear view mirror when you’re idling to make sure the vehicle doesn’t smoke.
- Read reviews – Before heading out to used car dealers in Indianapolis or other pre-owned car dealers in Indiana, do a little research. Check out online reviews of vehicles you are considering buying. Read what automotive journalists think of prospective vehicles, and also find out what other consumers have to say about their experiences with those vehicles. Edmunds, Car & Driver, and Kelley Blue Book are excellent resources.
- Compare prices – Compare the price of the vehicle you’re considering buying to similar vehicles. The Internet makes it very easy to narrow down prices for specific makes, models, and years. If the price seems too good to be true, inquire further about the mechanical condition of the vehicle and its accident history. An unreasonably low price may indicate serious mechanical or other problems.
- Talk to the salesperson – While a car dealership’s sales staff is there to sell you a vehicle, the salespeople are also there to help guide you to the right choice. Ask questions about vehicle reliability and dependability, and also ask about specific features of the vehicles you are considering, such as their accident status and why the previous owner traded it in.
- Check the Carfax – Carfax provides an invaluable service to used car consumers, allowing them to check the repair history of a pre-owned vehicle. Carfax reports contain a wide variety of information about vehicles, including whether they’ve been involved in an auto accident. Carfax derives this information from 91,000 sources, including police departments, insurers, and more. While Carfax reports don’t catch everything, they do provide a lot of information about most vehicles, and they are worth purchasing before buying a used car.
According to Edmunds, in the first quarter of 2016 more than 10.1 million used vehicles were sold – an increase of 3.4 percent over the previous year. Sales of certified pre-owned vehicles – used cars that have been subjected to a rigorous inspection and repair program – have increased significantly. In the first quarter of 2016, sales of certified pre-owned vehicles increased 5.2 percent from the first quarter of 2015. Certified pre-owned sales now account for more than a fifth of all used car sales.
Prices for pre-owned vehicles are creeping upward. The average prices for a used vehicle is now $18,838. High demand for newer used models, and an increase in the popularity of big trucks and SUVs in the pre-owned market are driving this increase.
The average price of a used car still remains well below that of a new vehicle. According to USA Today, the average new car price is now more than $33,000. Used cars present a real value opportunity for consumers. They can often get a higher-end vehicle used vehicle for the same price or less than they could if they purchased a new car, truck or SUV.
Modern auto manufacturing methods have improved vehicle reliability and longevity, making purchasing a used car a much less risky proposition than it was in years past.
For Indiana consumers seeking used car dealers in Indianapolis, CommunityCars.com is a great choice. CommunityCars.com has a large volume of used cars, trucks, and SUVs, with one sure to fit any need or budget. CommunityCars.com ’s knowledgeable and friendly staff make shopping for a used vehicle a truly enjoyable experience.