When is a Cheap Used Car Too Cheap?

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How to get a cheap used car without worrying about it being a lemon by doing the research and using a few free tools like AutoTempest.com.

Are used cars really just traps to sink one’s hard-earned money into, or on the contrary, can they be a great way to save money over buying new?

“Buying a used car is just buying someone else’s problems.” It’s a common statement, but how much merit does it have? Are used cars really just traps to sink one’s hard-earned money into, or on the contrary, can they be a great way to save money over buying new?

When buying used, there is always a risk that the car will be a lemon. However, most of the bad reputation of used cars actually comes from bad buyers. By doing the research, it is certainly possible to avoid the risks and to end up in a decent used car for cheap.

Do the Research

There are plenty of cheap cars out there that seem great, as any search through AutoTempest can show you. Though its purchase price may be cheap, behind that is a hidden cost: the total cost of owning, running and maintaining the car. This hidden cost is referred to as the car’s Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). After purchase, you are going to have to pay for fuel, insurance, maintenance, parts... and the costs for these things varies greatly between models. The cheaper and older the model is, the more important it is to figure out its TCO.

A good place to start getting an idea of the TCO of a used car is CarGurus.com’s Research section. There you’ll find reviews from current and previous owners of that model, and usually there is information on MPG and the availability of parts. If the information isn’t there, look for forums specific to that model and dig through there.

A smart second stop would be your local mechanic. See what they have to say about maintenance costs on the model and how reliable it is. They might also be able to shed light on the availability of parts.

Protect Yourself

Just because the seller believes the car is in great shape doesn’t necessarily mean that it is. Before buying any car, it’s a good idea to get it inspected to make sure nothing is on the brink of falling apart. This small extra cost could save you hundreds in the long run.

Getting a VIN history report is also a good plan, so you can see whether the car has been in any major accidents or has a salvage title. Again, a small cost that provides great reassurance.

Want to learn more about VIN reports and vehicle inspections? Check out the guide Avoid a Used Car Buying Nightmare - Two Simple but Critical Steps.

Get It For Cheaper

Now, chances are some of these steps have either eliminated a few cheap used car choices or exposed a number of flaws associated with a car that is still interesting. This information can be used to get the car for cheaper.

Compare similar cars on AutoTempest.com. The AutoTempest Used Car Search Engine is different from the other car searches out there in that it brings together the most used car listings from around the web, searching sites like craigslist®, eBay Motors, Cars.com, and many more. With a large sample to choose from, you should be able to find some comparable cars to the one you’re considering, either in better condition or with better prices.

Use these other listings as negotiating leverage to get the seller to drop their price. Take into account and bring up any faults found with the car so far, be it mechanical troubles or a high TCO, and tell the seller that with these factors taken into account, the purchase price should be lowered. If the seller refuses to bring the price down, then just move on to one of the other cheap cars you found using AutoTempest.

So the question still stands: when is a cheap used car too cheap? As long as the research is done and the buyer has a solid idea of what they are getting into, there is no such thing as too cheap.

About AutoTempest

AutoTempest.com provides all the tools and resources needed to find the ideal car for any budget and lifestyle, and to make the experience both informative and enjoyable. The AutoTempest used car search engine brings together used car listings from the top sites around the web, searching craigslist, eBay Motors, Cars.com and many more to help find that ideal used car.

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