Shopping for Older, Used Vehicles in 2024

 Used cars sit for sale at a dealership.

Fast Information About Shopping for Older, Used Autos

When looking for a used automobile, you could discover just a few surprises that may depart you scratching your head.

Individuals drive their vehicles longer than ever. The typical age of automobiles on the street at the moment is about 12.5 years previous. With the stock of used vehicles nonetheless experiencing tighter-than-usual situations and the common used automobile itemizing at $26,091 in November (or about $4,300 extra in comparison with the identical timeframe three years in the past), you’ll wish to know what elements you’ll want to weigh when contemplating such a purchase order.

It’s additionally essential to know how mileage, age, and situation decide its Kelley Blue E-book worth when in search of a used car.

Learn on to search out out what to think about when shopping for a used or older car. We’ll additionally inform you concerning the best vehicles to search out on this market as you navigate these uneven situations.

What To Know About Shopping for a Used Automobile

Nowadays, some dealerships will take high-mileage automobiles with upwards of 150,000 miles pushed. Additionally, many producers began certifying used vehicles with increased mileage. Tighter-than-usual stock means vehicles as soon as sure for auctions and purchase right here, pay right here tons now land within the franchised dealership lot. 

When contemplating a used automobile, you’ll possible encounter two situations, and these can truly occur.

State of affairs 1: Let’s say your loved ones wants a second or third car, and also you come throughout an unbelievably low-mileage cream puff. The automobile appears almost new, with solely 35,000 miles on the odometer, however the SUV is eight years previous. The value is correct. You are feeling such as you gained the lottery. However you surprise what points would possibly later materialize due to the car’s age.

State of affairs 2: Possibly you’re looking for a used car providing the newest expertise, like adaptive cruise management and cameras that present a 360-degree view of the environment. You may’t afford a 2-year-old mannequin with common miles, however the vendor presents up the automobile of your goals that’s 1000’s much less. Nonetheless, there’s one downside: This 2-year-old mannequin comes with 100,000 miles. Must you steer clear?

Subsequent, you’ll must do these two issues first that will help you determine on both of those vehicles.

  • Analysis the automobile mannequin and examine for extreme remembers. Head to the web and analysis that mannequin’s historical past. Verify for remembers to see if the mannequin experiences any repetitive issues, similar to critical (and costly) points with the transmission, energy steering, electrical system, and engine. For instance, changing the engine’s timing belt can run $370 to $600. Timing chains, totally different than a timing belt, price extra and should not unusual points in higher-mileage vehicles. Prices run no less than $2,000 to $3,000. Timing chain points can come up if the car proprietor doesn’t change the oil frequently.
  • Get a car historical past report. Figuring out a automobile’s historical past is important. Ask the automobile’s proprietor or vendor to point out you knowledge that features accident historical past, the car’s repairs, upkeep schedule, remembers, and, in some circumstances, even oil modifications. AutoCheck and Carfax are wonderful sources for this data. When shopping for a used automobile from a person, you should purchase a car historical past report for between $25 (AutoCheck) and $45 (Carfax). Usually, a well-maintained car presents an extended, probably trouble-free future than an ignored car.

If shopping for a used automobile, it’s greatest to think about automobiles maintained in keeping with the proprietor’s guide. So, within the case of State of affairs 2, that high-mileage automobile might be a superb purchase.

RELATED: Greatest Used Vehicles for 2024

Inspecting a Used Automobile

An older automobile, such because the 8-year-old mannequin in State of affairs 1, has parts that rust over an extended interval. Be certain that to examine the underside of automobiles, particularly in states that use salt to soften snow and in hurricane and flood-prone areas.

Earlier than buying, you’ll wish to know if the brake strains and suspension programs work safely. As well as, if the car proprietor doesn’t observe common upkeep protocols, shock absorbers, brake rotors and pads, tires, and different parts will possible must be changed. If the tires look previous, they may have dry rot, basically cracking that makes them harmful on account of age. 

Different prone age-related parts embrace the radiator and heater core. For instance, the heater core would possibly get weak and out of the blue blow out. Nicely, you repair the heater core, and the radiator would possibly fail as a result of, out of the blue, you’re pressurizing the system again as much as specs.

RELATED: Automobile Guarantee Information: Every little thing You Must Know

A high-mileage car used mainly for commuting with many freeway miles could also be in a lot better form than one used primarily for fast journeys backwards and forwards to the grocery retailer. There are a number of causes for this, says mechanic Gary Hardesty, a grasp auto technician with Cox Automotive, the dad or mum firm of Kelley Blue E-book.

“Brief journeys put extra stress on the starter and engine parts by continually being utilized in quick journeys, the place an extended commute might solely begin a car twice a day,” Hardesty mentioned.

“Additionally, if an engine isn’t introduced as much as regular temperatures, the oil can turn into contaminated rapidly as a traditional working temperature permits moisture and contaminants like unburned gasoline to be drawn into the combustion chamber and burned off as a traditional operation. These contaminants, not eliminated by longer drives and common oil modifications, threat inflicting main engine issues like sludge buildup.”

Hardesty recommends getting the car inspected by a licensed mechanic earlier than buying.

“A fast strategy to see if a car has rust is to open the hood and take a look at the shock tower bolts and parts beneath the hood, as they’re uncovered to the identical salt because the undercarriage,” Hardesty mentioned. “Most producers supply a corrosion assure for the unibody with some sort of corrosion inhibitor. This isn’t true for many parts like fasteners and such.”

One strategy to take the trouble out of getting a used car inspected is with Alliance Inspection Administration (AiM), which is designed for consumers and sellers. AiM, a unit of Cox Automotive, evaluates greater than 13 million used vehicles yearly. AiMCertify technicians can examine the situation of any automobile or truck within the U.S. before you purchase a used car.

The mechanic will meet you at a dealership or wherever you want them for the inspection, which prices between $129 and $349. The consultants can examine vehicles manufactured in 1981 and later, although there’s a package deal for traditional vehicles made earlier than then for $199. Lots of the packages additionally embrace an AutoCheck car historical past report.

Contemplate shopping for an authorized pre-owned (CPO) car for those who want extra reassurance. Learn our story on licensed pre-owned vehicles to be taught extra about these kinds of automobiles.

Shopping for a Used Automobile Now 

A chart showing the price of the average used car through November of 2023

If you wish to purchase a used automobile, be ready to pay extra probably. In line with a Cox Automotive report, used automobile buyers paid a mean of $26,091 on used automobiles as of November 2023. That’s about $1,000 lower than final 12 months. The report additionally discovered that the common mileage of used vehicles bought was about 70,368. Nonetheless, inventories are tight as costs fall. Kelley Blue E-book analysts anticipate used automobile costs to stay usually excessive for a number of years.

Carmakers constructed about 8 million fewer vehicles throughout the pandemic and anticipate that used automobile inventories might stay low for years as these vehicles by no means discover their strategy to the used market. That can hold costs increased than traditional.

Used Automobile Tons Stay Lean on Stock

Used vehicle inventory

Used automobile tons began bulking up once more, however stock stays lean. Even for those who make compromises, you would possibly discover a used automobile you want. Right here’s extra of what the report discovered and what you possibly can anticipate:

  • Discovering a used Honda, Toyota, and Subaru is difficult.
  • By value class, the decrease the worth, the decrease the availability.
  • Essentially the most troublesome used vehicles to search out are priced beneath $10,000.
  • You’ll find a good provide of vehicles priced above $35,000.

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Editor’s Be aware: This text has been up to date for accuracy because it was initially printed.  

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