Used Car Search: Finding Used Cars

Private, Dealerships & Auctions

Unlike with new cars, where you can really only get a viable selection from a franchised dealership, you have an interesting amount of options when you try to find used cars. Funnily enough, one of the best places to find used cars is at a new car dealership. You can also go to a specialist used car dealership, or a used car superstore, which operates off a different business model. You can also buy from a used car auction, and then there is one of the most frequent ways of buying used cars, which is from private owners.

New car dealers offer a greater selection of used cars – particularly of the makes and models that they sell new, and they are also likely to do more reconditioning of those cars. They are likely to be well established as a business and can offer financing and warranty coverage. But they will charge higher prices than other places and you need to have good negotiation skills and be disciplined so you buy what you need.

Used car dealerships will offer lower prices than new car dealers, which is why your negotiation skills don't have to be as sharp. You can also have the chance to deal directly with the owner. But the quality of cars may be lower, warranties are less likely to be available and a smaller selection will be there.

Should you be looking for a later model then used car superstores have a very wide selection. You won't have to negotiate, which might be nice for you, and the warranty coverage can be very good. But the prices can be higher than other places, and you are unlikely to be able to find technicians who specialise in the car for preparation and maintenance.

Private owners may offer you the best price as they are more likely to put book value on the car. You are also able to speak to the car's owner, which gives you a feel that more maintenance and care has been taken. But you should beware of owners taking a shot with an unrealistic price and it takes a while to look at all cars available with one appointment per car. So you should decide how valuable your time is before you go down the private owner route to searching for a used car.

Car auctions are now available for private buyers and you can get a wide variety of vehicles, and are able to compare cars side by side and get lower prices. But your opportunities for inspection are less and if you make a mistake you can't rectify it. You may also worry about getting caught up in the excitement of the auction and dangerously overbidding for a car.

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