Buying Second Hand Cars: Advice From a Car Seller


Most of us don’t have the cash to go out and buy a brand-new car. Some will just go out and get a loan so they can roll their new wheels off the lot, but the more frugal minded take a different route. Used cars are a good way to get on the road, but not all of them are worth your money.

Some people might call buying second hand cars an art, while others might call it a science. Some even call it a ‘shot in the dark’. However, it doesn’t have to be any of these things. If you want to buy a second hand car, there are two things to remember.


1. Caution is king when you’re buying a used car.

2. A car’s price is what it’s worth to you.


Buying any car requires caution, regardless of the source. Even dealers occasionally sell lemons by accident. When buying second hand cars, it’s even more important. You’ve probably heard it all before. There are “Ten Tips” articles on buying second hand cars all over the Internet. Whether or not those tips are any good is debatable.

One of the first things to look out for is price. Most people probably check for over-pricing, but that’s not the end you want to pay attention to. Surprisingly low prices on used cars are usually low for a reason. Just because a car is used doesn’t mean it’s worthless: Nobody will sell a car dirt cheap just because it’s old.


The best way to know what a car is worth is to check a website that’s dedicated to pricing cars. Cars depreciate in value with time, but the real price dropper is their condition. When you consider a car for purchasing, look up its make and model on a pricing website. If the owner is asking far too little for it, odds are something is wrong with it that you can’t see.

There are exceptions to this rule, however. The best way to ensure that a car is in good shape is to take it to a mechanic and let him look it over. If the owner of the car is serious about selling it, he won’t have a problem with this: He might even offer to drive it to a mechanic with you.

When you’re buying a car, remember that ‘value’ depends on how much one person needs something. If you don’t need the automobile enough to pay what the seller is asking, it’s more valuable to him. However, if you’re willing to pay for it, it’s more valuable to you. As one mechanic put it “in today’s economy, a car is probably worth $1500 just because it runs”.