Word to the wise for today: Never buy a used car on the basis of price alone. There are always other considerations—like the time and trouble you will invest in making the deal; access to service after you buy; getting the best possible information on the car; and getting a good financing deal.
All these factors suggest there are good reasons to buy a used car locally. Traveling to buy a car takes time and money and increases the pressure on you to make a quick decision.
One great advantage of online sites like CarGurus is that you can search a national database. For a particular year and model, there may be hundreds to choose from, but DealFinder will show you immediately whether the price is in your ballpark, provide some details about the car, and tell you where it’s located.
A national search gives an overview of the car’s pricing/value and can tell you whether it may be worthwhile to travel 500 miles for a great bargain. Assuming, of course, that you’re not looking for a Lamborghini or a rare specialty vehicle, you’ll generally do better if you make a final choice within 20 miles. Why?
First, it’s a lot more convenient. Visiting dealers and following up on ads within even a 50-mile radius will take much time, aggravation, and gasoline. Second, going to a local bank where you’re known can often get you a better loan offer. Third, you may get inside, unadvertised information about a car from someone you know.
Fourth, if something goes wrong after the purchase, you have a better chance of getting it fixed by a local person or shop. Fifth, you’ll reduce the chance of getting scammed. Dealers and people in your local community are concerned about their reputations.
Finally, another reason is that our DealFinder gets you really thorough coverage of local deals. Plenty of other sites provide good national coverage (and we incorporate some of these sites in our search algorithms), but we’ve made a special effort to find and list local cars.
How did you search for your last used car? And where did you buy it?