Buying a used car, truck, or van can be intimidating. How do you know you’re getting the best vehicle for the price, and how can you ensure the car itself is reliable?
Buying a used car has become easier than ever due to the number of online tools, research platforms, and shared data available. This means you can not only access a large inventory of used cars online, but can also compare current values, research reliability and safety trends, and see how the vehicle has performed for other owners.
Do you want to buy a used car but aren’t sure where to start? Here at BCS Auto Sales, we have 16 detailed steps for buying a used car to help you get the best value and reliability for your budget.
Buying a used car is slightly more complicated than buying a new car. This is because you have additional variables that contribute to the value of the car including age and kilometres, wear and tear indicators, and can buy from private sellers or used car dealerships. However, approaching the process systematically can help ensure you get a quality used car for the right price.
The first step in buying a used car is to determine your budget or price point. At BCS Auto Sales, our onsite Business Office has the tools readily available to customize any method of payment a client would like. All our vehicles are independently inspected and serviced to ensure our clients have no unexpected repair costs when first purchasing their vehicle.
If you are planning on trading in your current vehicle when buying a used car, you’ll want to come with an understanding of how much your trade-in is worth. This should also be factored into your budget for your used car purchase. There are several online resources for trade-in car value or you can simply contact BCS Auto Sales for an appraisal here.
Knowing your timeline gives you an idea of how much time you have to research which used car to buy. Often, the search for a quality vehicle may need to happen quickly due to a mechanical breakdown of collision. Rest assured, at BCS Auto Sales, we carry an excellent selection of vehicles at all times.
After you determine the price of the used car you can afford, it’s time to narrow down your choice in models. Start by determining what size and style of car you want then break it down by the features that are most important to you.
It’s important to include safety and reliability reports as well as cost of ownership reports. These will help you determine which cars in your price range and preferred body style have the best safety and reliability ratings, as well as which have the most reasonable costs of maintenance in the long-run. It can also help you predict which models might require bigger or more expensive repairs earlier in their lifecycle.
In addition to safety, reliability, and cost of ownership reports, it can also be helpful to consider popular models. Not only will there be more of these available in the used car market, but they are also at a higher likelihood of being leased and traded in earlier in their lifecycle. The increased availability in the used car market may also mean a lower price for the value.
Narrowing down your used car search to 3-4 models can make your comparison shopping more manageable. Buying a used car can be more time-intensive and complicated than buying a new car since you’re not only comparing features and reports, but also comparing the number of kilometres on the odometer, current condition and title, year, and location. Narrowing down the number of models you’re considering helps you better compare apples to apples.
Choosing to purchase a used car over 5 years old can often mean a lower price but will also typically mean higher kilometres, increased wear and tear and less dependability. Going for a newer model used car—or a used car that was recently manufactured—may mean a slight increase in initial pricing, but may also mean more features, improved technology, lower kilometres and a lot less maintenance.
After you’ve narrowed down make, model, and year, you should have a good idea of how much to expect to pay for the used car. This will probably be a price range that will depend on whether or not the used car is certified pre-owned (CPO), how much warranty is left on the vehicle, current kilometres and condition, etc. At BCS Auto Sales, we offer live market pricing. This helps determine the true value of vehicles being offered for sale.
Once you know what used car you’re looking and at what price, it’s time to take a deep look into current used car inventory. This can be accomplished at a local trusted used car dealership or can be an online search. Be sure to check out a dealership through reviews and accreditations. At BCS Auto Sales, we are honoured to be a proud recipient of Dealerrater’s Used Car Dealer of the Year 2017, 2018 and 2019 for British Columbia.
When you’re shopping around, it’s important to remain flexible. This is because it can be difficult to find the exact make, model, and trim for your used car at the price, year, and kilometres you’re hoping for in your area.
Whether you’ve found a used car you’re interested in at a used car dealership or from a private seller, it can save you time and improve your bargaining power if you call ahead. Ask questions about the car that might have an impact on the car’s value. Confirm how many kilometres are on the vehicle, the vehicle’s current condition, why the car was being sold, whether there are maintenance records, etc. Be sure to ask for a copy of a recent CarFax report. This can help give you the information you need to research current pricing trends on that make, model, year, and condition.
Before making a serious move on any used car, you should look into the title history. Some sellers will provide this at no cost; if not, it’s worth it to purchase the history before moving forward with a purchase. This history will help you confirm the odometer reading, provide information about any accidents or liens, see the history of ownership, identify problem brands, and more. At BCS Auto Sales, all of our vehicles are free of liens and come with complimentary CarFax vehicle history reports.
It can be helpful to get prequalified for financing before visiting the car dealership. It makes the transaction more straightforward, can save you time at the dealership and get you back on the road in your new vehicle.
Before buying a used car, it is critical to go for a test drive. Keep the radio off (you can test that out later) so you can concentrate on the drive and any sounds that might indicate there’s a problem with the vehicle. Choose a test-driving route that allows you to focus on the vehicle, not the traffic.
Be aware of any abnormal vibrations, whether or not the car lags when accelerating, issues with the braking or stopping power, sounds or squeals, exhaust color, etc.
At BCS Auto Sales, all* of our vehicles come with a 30 Day Money Back Guarantee (details upon request).
*not applicable on commercial vehicles
Even if you consider yourself car-savvy, it is important to have a certified car mechanic inspect a used car before purchase. Most mechanics offer this service for a nominal fee and will make sure there’s no indication of current or upcoming repair/replacement needs. They can also give you an idea of how well the car has been maintained. At BCS Auto Sales, every vehicle goes through a thorough independent vehicle inspection prior to being offered for sale. Commercial vehicles receive a Provincial Certification prior to being offered for sale.
Once you’ve decided the used car is the right car for you, it’s time to know you are purchasing the vehicle at fair value. This is where your pre-sale research comes in. At this point, you should have a good idea of how much a used car of this make, model, and condition should cost as well as how much you’re willing to adjust based on your condition and the test drive of the vehicle. If you’re not comfortable with this stage of buying a used car, bring someone along who can help you understand the value of the vehicle. At BCS Auto Sales, we can easily compare vehicle pricing with other vehicles being offered elsewhere.
If it seems like the seller is trying to get more money out of the car than you find reasonable in your research, don’t be afraid to compare alternative vehicles. If you’re finding yourself having to walk away from multiple deals, it can’t hurt to take a second look at the research you have done to make sure your price research is accurate and reasonable.
Buying a new car comes with advantages such as having a completely clean title—and clean, unused interior—as well as access to the latest features. However, it also comes with a big depreciation hit that can often cause your loan to be underwater for the two years (or longer) of your purchase. Buying a used car, however, can improve your likelihood of getting a better car at a better price, especially after the initial depreciation has been factored in.
Here are some additional benefits of buying a used car:
Depreciation refers to the actual value of the car compared to the price you purchased it for. New cars have a reputation for taking a big depreciation hit, and it’s no wonder why. Simply driving off the lot with your new car depreciates the vehicle. Why the sudden depreciation? Because at that point, the value of your car goes down a “Used Vehicle” price point.
Used cars, especially used cars over 5 years old, depreciate more slowly than new cars. That means they typically maintain a higher resale value. In some cases, you may even be able to resell your car for similar to what you originally paid for it. Comparatively, when you purchase a new car instead of a used car, you will almost certainly lose money on it—that’s because a new car depreciates immediately when you drive it off the lot and depreciates more quickly than a used car.
One of the biggest advantages of buying a used car instead of a new car is that you’re more likely to get a better-quality car for the money than you would buying new. This is in part because your budget will stretch farther when purchasing a used car compared to a new car.
When you’re buying a used car, someone else has taken the “hit” of immediate depreciation when the car drives off the lot. That means you may be able to find your dream car for 20-30% less than its original MSRP when it’s only a year or two old.
New cars are a higher risk for financial institutions, which means you may be required to carry gap insurance to cover the difference between what you owe and the vehicle’s value. With a used car, you typically have more flexible options for coverage and are insuring against a lower relative value than with a new vehicle.
Buying a used car can be complicated. There are many more options for buying used cars than there are for new, with conditions, kilometres, age, and more impacting how the car might be valued. Below are 8 tips that can help you find a good deal on a used car for your budget.
One of the best ways to make sure you get a good deal on a used car is to go into the used car buying process knowing what you want. It can be easy to fall for a good price, features, or low kilometres, but it’s important to remember there are many factors that go into the right choice for a used car. Narrowing down your search to a few models that best suit your needs helps you frame your research so you know you’re choosing the best used car for the best price.
Going into your car search with specific models in mind can also help you from getting distracted by “good deals,” specials, or other incentives that might throw you off course. Search online for reliability and safety reports for that model, ask to see the Carfax and vehicle inspection (independent) for that particular vehicle.
When you’re buying a used car, reliability and cost of ownership reports will be a huge indicator of whether or not it’s the right car for you. Reliability reports will tell you how long the car lasts, what typical problems you can expect—whether the make or model tends to have certain issues, etc. At BCS Auto Sales, all of our vehicles have been hand-picked to be offered for sale.
It can be easy to get caught up in price, kilometres, or other differentiators with used cars; however, when you’re comparing vehicles it’s important to make sure you’re comparing apples to apples. If your primary decision-maker is cost, make sure you’re comparing the odometer and history reports of vehicles in your price range. If kilometres are most important to you, make sure you’re comparing vehicles with similar odometer readings. It can get confusing when you’re comparing used cars since there are significantly more factors than there are when you’re comparing new cars. Narrowing down the models you’re looking for can help make this process easier to navigate. When looking online, pretty much the only thing you can’t check, is the smell of the vehicle. At BCS Auto Sales, our vehicles are smoke free and without odour.
Use online shopping tools to get to know your car’s current value. The trick here is making sure you’re getting an accurate estimate of the car’s condition when you’re comparing costs. Call ahead of time to ask questions about the condition of the car so you can do accurate research before visiting the dealership. If you didn’t get a good assessment of the condition before test-driving the car, don’t be afraid to take the time to do the research while you’re on site. At BCS Auto Sales, our clients have access to Wi-Fi or our use of our computers for price comparisons.
Used cars have dozens of factors that could impact the quality of the car. Before you purchase a vehicle, make sure to get a copy of the vehicle history. Carfax is a good resource for this and that is what we use at BCS Auto Sales. These reports, along with vehicle inspection reports, are free and available for our clients to see.
Another way to ensure you’re getting a good deal on your used car is to shop around. There are multiple online listing sites on which used car dealerships and private sellers list used cars for sale. These sites can be a good starting point when comparing available models in your price range. Be advised that some vehicles located in remote areas are subject to rougher road conditions and harsher weather, than locally driven vehicles. This must be taken into account when shopping for a vehicle.
Newer used vehicles, may still have some balance remaining under their original manufacturer’s warranty. At BCS Auto Sales, the majority of our vehicles will come with their balance of original manufactures warranty plus an option to extend warranties through third party sources.
If you’re not sure what model of used car will be best for you, consider looking at popular models from previous years. A popular car model usually indicates a good balance between quality and value. At BCS Auto Sales, we have a team constantly reviewing our vehicle offerings to ensure the vehicles are reliable, efficient and without concerns.
When buying a used car from a private party, you have no recourse should the vehicle not be describe and presented as advertised. At BCS Auto Sales, we are a certified and accredited Used Car Dealer and all of our team members are VSA (Vehicle Sales Authority) Certified. When purchasing a used vehicle privately, CarFax reports and Independent Vehicle Inspections costs are incurred on to the purchaser, not to mention any cost of reconditioning. At BCS Auto Sales, all our vehicles come with full CarFax Vehicle History Reports, Independent Vehicle Inspections and servicing as per recommendations from the independent vehicle inspection. Each vehicle offered at BCS Auto Sales, also undergoes a through and professional detailing prior to being offered for sale.
It can also be more time-consuming to buy from a private party since they will typically only have one vehicle available for sale. You will sometimes have to visit multiple private parties in succession before finding the right car for you. At BCS Auto Sales, we offer an array of most makes and models.
Purchasing from a dealership can also save time since they often have multiple cars. If you are unable to find the car you’re looking for, a car dealership can also help you track down the right car and notify you when they receive it, helping to save you the time and effort. In addition, used car dealerships often run specials on certain vehicles or on their entire used car inventory that can help you secure a good deal on your used car.
Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) is an official certification from the car manufacturer. It means the used car has been inspected, refurbished, and certified by the manufacturer or by an official certification partner. This usually means improved reliability from your vehicle and fewer surprise problems. At BCS Auto Sales, all our vehicles have been hand-picked to be offered for sale. They are then independently inspected and serviced before going for a professional cleaning. This ensures quality and trust knowing the vehicles are in great shape and without concerns.
Are you ready to start your used car shopping journey? Start at our online used car showroom at www.bcsautosales.ca or visit us in person in South Vancouver at 1404 South West Marine Drive.