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5 Myths About Buying Used Cars

People have been buying pre-owned automobiles for decades now; in fact, the used car market is nearly as old as cars themselves. Even so, many myths and misconceptions persist, and in some cases they can prevent consumers from making the best, most educated decisions. We’re going to clear up some of that misinformation today, and hopefully prepare you to buy smart. What follows are the five most common myths about used cars, as well as our commentary.

Myth #1: Used Cars aren’t as reliable

There is a persistent idea that, once you put a few miles on an automobile, it simply becomes less durable, less dependable; that people who buy used vehicles are going to experience breakdowns and massive repair bills. Certainly, some used vehicles don’t work out as hoped, but the same could be said of brand new vehicles. The bottom line is this: Today’s vehicle manufacturers design cars and trucks to keep running for a good long while, sometimes well past the 200,000 mile marker! So what if a vehicle has 30,000, 50,000, or even 100,000 miles on it? So long as you inspect it thoroughly, you can still end up with a vehicle with much life left in it.

Myth #2: There’s not much you can do to protect yourself against buying lemons

There is plenty you can do to protect yourself—like getting a CarFax report, inspecting the vehicle thoroughly, taking it to an independent mechanic for an appraisal, asking about extended warranties, ensuring the car you buy is certified pre-owned, or even claiming the provisions of California’s consumer-friendly “lemon laws.”

Myth #3: The easiest way to buy a used car is from a private seller

It may be easy, but it’s not always the best option. It’s simply hard to know whether the guy selling his old Jeep on Craigslist is a trustworthy or honest person, and consumer protection laws won’t protect you when you buy from a private seller. Going through a dealership is the safer bet, generally speaking.

Myth #4: The selection of used cars is pretty limited

We live in a golden age of used cars, where many vehicles are coming off leases and making their way onto dealership lots—meaning there are plenty of great used cars for you to choose from.

Myth #5: Used vehicles don’t offer much value

While it’s true that the value of a car depreciates over time, and loses as much as 20 percent in the first year, used vehicles can still offer safety, reliability, fuel economy, and aesthetics—all things that might be very valuable to you and your family, and make it a really smart purchase.

You can’t believe everything you’re told about used vehicles—but hopefully, these quick pointers will help set the record straight. As long as you educate yourself about the used car market, you can buy with real confidence. A good place to start the process? Our expansive archive of blog posts, available for free at Get My Auto.