All You Need to Know About Buying Used Cars in 2024  

We know you’re here because you’re interested in getting a used car. Perhaps you’re on a budget. Perhaps you want a special edition or vintage car. Whatever your reason is, we’re here to help you figure things out.

Finding the right secondhand car is not simply about luck. It’s about doing the right research and making sure that everything fits your needs.

Understanding what to look for in a secondhand car will help you avoid automotive repairs and being stuck in the middle of nowhere. As much as we like not sending secondhand cars to impounds, you should not just buy a secondhand car right away simply because it’s more affordable than a new one.

If you’re still not sure about how to choose the right secondhand car, here’s everything you need to know about buying one.

Source: Santander Consumer USA

1. Doing your research is a must

Before anything else, you must write down every quality that you’re looking for in a used car. Take time to ask yourself these― How many seats do I need? What type of transmission do I want? Are there any certain car features that I can’t give up?

After answering these important questions, do research for cars that fit your needs and wants. You can also post an inquiry on social media, contact dealerships, or do thorough research online. The team at AutoZone can help you with your used car finance.

2. Comparing prices is a step you shouldn’t skip

Doing your research is necessary, but if you don’t compare prices, your research will be rendered obsolete. After all, what’s the point of looking for a used car you can’t afford?

Comparing prices not only help you stick to your budget, it can help you save money as well. Since the secondhand car industry is vast, finding the same models with different prices is highly possible.

Source: Engine Hoist

3. Inspecting the car thoroughly really helps

You’ll never know exactly what the used car went through unless you inspect it yourself. If you’re not confident with your inspecting skills, it doesn’t hurt to bring your trusted mechanic with you. After all, it always helps to get professional opinion when buying a used car.

Inspect the vehicle in broad daylight, on a dry day. Make sure it hasn’t been driven at least an hour before you do the inspection. Hiring a car accident lawyer is expensive and car accident scams are common, so inspect the vehicle well to avoid accidents.

4. Test driving the car can go a long way

There’s no better way to test a car than driving it yourself. Ask the seller to let you have a test drive before even considering buying the car. If the seller says no, then there must be something wrong with it. Red flag alert.

According to Forbes, 33% of car buyers said they quickly test drive only one model once before signing the paperwork. Don’t be like them. Thoroughly test drive every car you got your eye on.

Source: Agents of Drive

5. Obtaining a vehicle history report eliminates various problems

According to, the vehicle history report is one of the most important documents you must obtain before buying a used car. In a nutshell, it lets you know if the vehicle has been stolen, if it has an outstanding balance, and if it was subjected to accidents & disaster damage.

Basically, a vehicle history report confirms or denies all of your suspicions about a used car. Plus, getting one online is very easy, so there’s no reason not to get it.

6. The higher the mileage, the more parts need to be replaced

Not everyone knows this― the higher the car mileage, the more parts need replacement. As stated by Forbes, putting up more mileage means that you have to replace parts that appear cracked, loose, or brittle for your vehicle to be roadworthy. According to WeBuyTotaledCars you can even sell parts you replaced.

This clearly equates to more expenses. Thus, it’s crucial for you to know the mileage of the secondhand car before buying it. If the mileage is too high, then it’s probably wise to skip it.

Source: Car Analytics

7. Having two budgets is necessary

Most used car buyers only have one budget in mind― the one for the purchase of the car. However, used cars need to be repaired or refurbished, which brings us to the second budget you must have― the one for making the car truly roadworthy.

If you don’t have a second budget, you will be stressed when the vehicle’s temperature needle starts climbing, when the paint comes off, or when the mechanic says that you need a new A/C compressor.

8. Questioning the seller is something you should consider

One common mistake used car buyers make is not questioning the seller. They usually settle for what the sellers tell them. Remember, the seller’s main goal is to sell the car. Of course, he or she will tell you all the best things about the vehicle and avoid the worst things about it.

Don’t hesitate to ask the seller exactly why he or she wanted to sell the car. Is it because he or she needs an upgrade? Is it because of a car accident? Remember to ask follow-up questions until you get to the truth.

Source: ConsumersLine

9. Negotiating a reasonable price is better than not negotiating at all

When you talk to the seller, stick to your budget, but don’t share it until the dealer or seller makes an offer. A rule of thumb: not revealing the number gives you more negotiating power.

If the offer is higher than your budget, negotiate. If the offer is lower than your budget, negotiate anyway. Who knows? You might save more money.

10. Knowing the ins and outs of the paperwork is a requirement

If you are buying a used car directly from an owner, make sure he or she properly transfers the registration and title to you.

Before you hand the money, read everything. If something’s not clear, ask. Rules vary from one state to another, so make sure not to miss any detail regarding the transfer of car ownership.

Source: DriversDigest

The secondhand car industry is big, so it takes more than grit to find the right secondhand car. After all, you want to make sure that you get your hard-earned money’s worth.