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PA Used Cars: Pricing and Buying

What is a Used Car?

A used car, a pre-owned vehicle, or a second hand car, is a vehicle that has previously had one or more retail owners. Used cars are sold through a variety of outlets, including franchise and independent car dealers, rental car companies, leasing offices, auctions, and private party sales. A used car can be from last year’s model year, or it can be twenty years old. Dealerships mostly will carry used cars that are from the last five years. With a private sale you are more likely to be able to find something older. Pre owned vehicles can be found in all shapes and sizes, from a sporty, fast convertible, to a heavy duty pickup truck, to a family hauler minivan. The benefits of purchasing a used car are obvious, you save money, while also getting a great value. The reason for this value is a new car’s depreciation rate. When a new car leaves the lot, it automatically loses value. A used car that is three or four years old has already lost its depreciation, so you are not losing out on the value.

How to Shop for a Used Car

Shopping for a used car can be a time consuming and confusing experience. But there are ways to shop stress free. The first thing to do is to decide what your needs for a car are. Will you be carrying passengers in the back? Do you need cargo space or towing power? Or maybe you are looking for a car that gets excellent mileage for commuting purposes. Then again you could be searching for a ‘weekend’ car, such as a sports car or off road vehicle. Once you narrow your choices you must set a budget. Sticking to your budget is very important, if you end up with payments that are too high and cause financial troubles because of your used car purchase, you likely will regret spending the extra couple hundred dollars. If you can afford a vehicle from the last few years, this is the best choice. New vehicles will have modern design, new safety technology, and many of the same features that a new car would have.

Pricing a Used Car

With annual sales of nearly $370 billion, the used vehicle industry represents almost half of the U.S. auto retail market and is the largest retail segment of the economy. The growth of the Internet has fueled the availability of information on the prices of used cars. Whereas this information was once only available in trade publications that dealers had access to, there are now numerous sources for used car pricing. Multiple sources of used car pricing means that the prices you get from different sources often won't agree with each other. This is a result of each pricing guide receiving data from different sources and making different judgments about that data. The best way to determine a price is to cross-check prices with multiple sources to arrive at your price. Pricing of used cars can also be affected by geography; generally a convertible has a much higher demand in Florida than in New Hampshire. Similarly, pickups are often more in demand in rural than urban settings. Condition has a major impact on pricing. Condition is based on appearances, vehicle history, mechanical condition and mileage. There is much subjectivity in how the condition of a car is evaluated.

Vehicle history reports

In the United States, an estimated 34-percent of consumers are buying vehicle history reports for used cars. Vehicle history reports are an inexpensive way to check the track record of any used vehicle. Vehicle history reports provide customers with a detailed record based on the vehicle's serial number (VIN). These reports will indicate items of public record, such as vehicle title branding, lemon law buybacks, odometer fraud and recalls. They may indicate minor/moderate collision damage or improper vehicle maintenance. An attempt to identify vehicles which have been previously owned by hire car rental agencies, police and emergency services or taxi fleets is also made. However, consumers should research vehicles carefully, as these reporting services only report the information to which they have access.

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