Where Is the Best Place to Buy Used Cars?

Buying a used car can get you a vehicle that’s in good, functional condition at a much better price point, and you don’t even have to worry about the car losing 10% of its value the second you drive it off the lot. 

While the car might be new-to-you, it’s not actually new. It’s already been through this type of depreciation, which means you’re not throwing any money away when you buy it. 

But that’s only true if you buy a used car from the right place. 

What is the best place to buy used cars, then? We’ve put together this guide to help you find out where to start shopping and what to look for in a dealer. 

Let’s get started! 

Getting Ready for the Sale 

Before you hop in a used car and drive it home, there are a few things you’ll want to go to get ready for the sale. Doing these things in advance will make the purchasing process much quicker and easier. 

Know What You Want 

Do a bit of research and figure out what type of car you want. You don’t have to know all the exact details, but this will allow you to give a few guidelines to the dealership so they can help you find the best car for your needs. 

If you have an idea of what you want in your mind, you’ll also be able to avoid being talked into buying a make and model you don’t want or can’t afford. 

Set a Budget 

Once you know how much the type of car you want generally sells for, you should set a budget so you don’t end up going into debt during the sale. Know how much money you can spend at the dealership and how much you can put on payments every month (if you need them). 

Then stick to it. 

There’s no point in creating a budget if you overspend in the end. If you can’t afford the type of car you want yet, save up for a few months first so your bank account is prepared. 

You Don’t Have to Stay Local 

You aren’t limited to the dealership options in your area. If you find a good car in a different city, you can buy it and have it shipped to your home. While this will add an extra cost to the sale, it can also give you a lot more choices to pick from during your hunt for a new car. 

The Best Place to Buy Used Cars 

It’s hard to say there’s a definite best place to buy used cars. The right option for you depends on what type of car you want, how much money you can spend, and your other needs. Here are a few of the most common ways to shop for a new-to-you car. 

New Car Dealerships 

If you want a reliable dealership that sells high-quality cars, this is going to be your best choice. New car dealerships have a large inventory of cars on their lot, including both new and used cars. They provide things like financing, warranties, pre-inspected vehicles, certified vehicles, etc. 

When you buy from one of these dealerships, you know you’re getting a functional car. 

The problem is what you buy will come at a slightly higher price than other places. These types of dealerships may also only offer one car brand, which can limit your choices. 

Independent Dealerships 

If you want lower prices, you should visit an independent dealership. They also offer many different types of cars, meaning you can look through several different brands all in the same spot. 

But this does come with a few downsides. 

While this type of dealership does have financing, it’s often only in-house financing. You won’t have as many lender options available to you. They may also not have as much knowledge as new-car dealerships, so while they can answer your questions, they may not be able to give you in-detail information about specific brands. 

The cars you get here are still quality vehicles, but they might not be in as good condition as other places. 

Used-Car Retailers 

Used-car retailers are like a mix between the two options above. They have many of the benefits of a new-car dealership, such as warranties and financing, but they also keep a wide range of car types on their lot. Their professional sales teams can help you find exactly what you’re looking for, as well. 

Keep in mind, these features mean the cars will come at a higher price. You also won’t be able to haggle at these car dealerships, so if you enjoy the negotiation, go somewhere else. 

Private Sellers 

These are people selling their cars themselves. You can get a used car at a low price from an individual, but they won’t be able to give you any type of financing, warranties, etc.

It can also be difficult to tell exactly what you’re getting. The car may look good on the outside but be full of problems you can’t see. Buying from a private seller has a higher risk, but it can give you some of the best prices. 


You can find a wide range of cars online from sites like Cars.com,SCA auction, A Better Bid, and more. The biggest issue with this method is it’s difficult to inspect one of these cars. The good news is, though, you can find great deals. You might have to do a lot of your own research, but buying online may be able to help you save money. 

Learning More About the Car You’re Buying 

After you find the best place to buy used cars for your needs, don’t hand over any money yet. Instead, get some information about the car you want and learn more about it (so you really know what you’re paying for). 

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