About 70% of Americans have indicated their preference for second-hand cars, even as Statista reports that in 2019, 40% of the total cars that people bought in the US were not brand-new. In poor countries where people's purchasing power is very low, only the high-ranking elite or government officials go for new cars.
Now, let's get the facts straight; there is nothing intrinsically wrong with brand-new vehicles, and we don't even need any statistics to know that if people had the means, they would never think twice before picking brand-new cars over second-hand ones. The only problem with new cars is their often exorbitant price tags, which many people cannot afford.
But as with many second-hand things, used cars can be unreliable, especially if you did not carry out a diligent check before buying it. And in a situation where you end up with a faulty used car, the money you'll spend on replacing car parts or maintaining it can even add up and equal the price of a new car.
But before we highlight the important things to check when planning to buy a second-hand car, perhaps we should first examine the benefits and drawbacks to this idea so that you can determine whether it is worth it or not.
Pros of Buying Used Cars
- You Save Some Money
Almost every preowned car will sell 50% cheaper than its brand-new model. That's because new vehicles start depreciating as soon as you drive them out of the lot. And come to think of it: if you can buy a used Lexus RX 350 SUV at half of its price, why would you spend double, especially when the pre-owned vehicle is certified safe and sound?
As most car buyers have to obtain loans from myautoloan or any other institutions giving loans for cars, a used car means your loan will be minimal, and you can pay up in time. Assuming you even have the money to buy a brand-new vehicle, you can use that amount for two cars, which also has its advantages. The price difference between a new and used vehicle is significant, and a major reason Americans are towing the path.
- Adequate Inspection & Certification
Pre-owned vehicles sold in the US by manufacturers often go through thorough inspection and certification to ensure they are in perfect running conditions. As such, except you are opting for a private party purchase, you can rest assured of getting the right car. In some cases, the manufacturers would have refurbished the car, and it may even qualify for some benefits such as an extended warranty and financial packages.
- No Need for Gap Insurance
Vehicle insurance is usually based on the car's value/price as at the time you are insuring it. Since new cars depreciate quickly, you will need gap insurance to fill in the space between the new car's cost and its depreciated value. This additional provision can significantly increase your insurance premium. As for used cars, you don't need gap insurance because it has possibly undergone the depreciation possible. Its value or cost is almost fixed and stable. So, you can pay less on your premium.
- Environmental Benefits
One estimate has it that one-quarter of the carbon dioxide a car would emit throughout its lifetime takes place at the manufacturing and shipment process. It does mean that if many people embrace used cars, we can reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere by a quarter. Of course, this would be a tremendous environmental gain for us.
- No Fees Exaggeration
There are many fees you have to pay when buying a brand-new car. Some of these may include dealer preparation, shipping fees, destination fees, and several other miscellaneous payments. Unfortunately, all of these fees can add up to thousands of dollars. However, if it's a second-hand car you are rooting for, the first owner would have settled these payments. While you would still have to pay for documentation and other things, it would be nothing compared to buying the car new.
Cons of Buying a Second-Hand Car
While there are many benefits to buying used cars, there are real demerits or concerns for it, too. Some of these are:
- Reliability Issues
There is no need to overstress this point. Second-hand cars will be less reliable than new ones. Often, the degree of reliability of a pre-owned car depends on its age and maintenance practices of the first owner. If the previous owner(s) cared less about car maintenance or used for a very long time, you might end up buying a liability. So, reliability is always a serious concern for every second-hand car buyer.
- Limited Options
When scouting for a used car to buy, you can only hope that someone would have the specification you have in mind. In most cases, you may not have a choice over the color, accessories, and other details that you may have in mind. However, if you're buying a brand-new car, apart from having all the accessories and features intact, you can always get your preferred color option.
- Warranty is not guaranteed
Unless you are buying from the manufacturers themselves, used cars do not often come with a warranty. That means that if anything goes wrong with the car engine or function, you cannot return or get it serviced for free. But with a brand-new vehicle, you are sure of a warranty, which can span up to months or years.
Car Parts to Focus on While Inspecting a Second-Hand Car for Purchase
Not every part of a car is significant to its reliability or effectiveness. For instance, you cannot condemn a car as being unreliable just because the side mirror is broken. You can fix that with a token. However, the following car parts are very critical to any car's effectiveness.
- Tires & Wheels
If you want to begin your inspection from the outside, perhaps you can choose to start from the tires. Check the four tires to see that they are still in good shape and tread depths. Check the rims, too! If any of the rims is bent or has dents, that may be a major repair sign. It is not normal for tires to have bulges, cuts, gouges, or splits; they are often signs of significant damage. Any of these would mean you have to replace the tire, which can be expensive.
- Body Appearance
How the car body looks is also significant. You don't want to get a vehicle with rusts, dents, and scratches. So, inspect everything, including the doors, bonnets, and boots, to ensure the aesthetics are still okay. If you notice any major structural damage, you can walk away or negotiate a price slash. After all, you would need money to fix those things. Again, be aware that before anyone could feel how good your car engine is, they would see the exterior. Therefore, everything about it has to be intact.
- The Car Engine
A car is as good as its engine. As such, if you have reasons to doubt the soundness of the engine, it's advisable you look for another option. The common signs of a faulty car engine are leakages, blown head gasket, bluish or whitish and thick exhaust smoke, or the car's outright inability to start. If you don't know much about how a car works, you can ask a mechanic to test-drive it and listen to how the engine sounds.
- Gearbox & Clutch
Depending on the car you are inspecting, the transmission can either be manual or automatic. It's important you test-drive the care to be sure that all the gears are responding aptly. The biting point of the clutch must also be sharp.
Maintenance Practices that Can Prolong Your Second-Hand Car
Regardless of how excellent the state of your second-hand car is as at the time you bought it, without maintaining it as you should, you might not be able to use it for long. These car maintenance practices can prolong your vehicle's life, thereby enabling you to enjoy it while spending less.
- Change the engine oil regularly, as advised by the manufacturer. Also, ensure that you only use the recommended oil and at the manufacturer's right interval.
- Check fluids such as brake oils and transmission fluids to ensure there is no leakage and regularly replace them, too, as prescribed.
- Inspect your car tires regularly to be sure there are no punctures, cuts, or deflation. You also need to ensure the pressure is uptight.
- You should take your second-hand car to a mechanic at least once every six months for in-depth checks and servicing. A qualified mechanic checks other details you might be unable to see.
How Can Online Review Help you Buy the best Second-Hand Car?
Whether you plan to patronize independent sellers or dealerships for your car purchase, you shouldn't neglect online reviews. One website where you can read people's feedback on companies and dealers of cars in the US is US-Reviews. The website catalogs prominent US companies and allows customers to read and write reviews of their experience.
Reading car companies' reviews will give you an insight into which dealer is reliable and not. You can also learn how best to negotiate the price so you can get the car at the lowest price possible. The secret lies in taking advantage of people's experience to make the best buying decision.
The Final Take
For many people, buying second-hand cars is the only way they can become a car owner. Indeed, there is nothing bad about buying pre-owned cars. You only have to do a proper checking and maintain it according to the manufacturer's instructions, and you can enjoy the used car in as many ways you would enjoy a brand-new one.