Reader asks for advice about purchasing a vehicle

All new vehicles have the suggested retail price listed on the window sticker. If purchasing a 3-year-old vehicle, the amount paid can be much less of what it listed for originally. James Halderman photo

Combined ShapeCaption
All new vehicles have the suggested retail price listed on the window sticker. If purchasing a 3-year-old vehicle, the amount paid can be much less of what it listed for originally. James Halderman photo

Wheels: David B. asks by email: "I am a company service representative and travel a lot – about 40,000 to 50,000 miles a year. I do not want to purchase a new vehicle because it would soon be out of warranty; however, I am not comfortable trying to find a good used car because I do not know what to look for when inspecting a used vehicle. Any advice would be welcome. Thanks."

Halderman: I think the best plan of action is to purchase a used vehicle that has been returned after three-year lease and is "certified" by the dealer and the factory. Being a certified used car, it has to meet stringent requirements and be free from any mechanical, body or interior faults and be accident-free, such as having a clean "Car Fax".

Did you know that everyone drives a used vehicle? As soon as a new vehicle is driven out of the dealership, it is used and its value drops. Used vehicles including cars, trucks and SUVs may be less expensive to purchase, and if 3 years old, can often be purchased for half of what it cost when new.

Things to consider when purchasing a used vehicle include:

A used vehicle often is sold as a certified used vehicle, especially those returned after a lease, and offered with a warranty that is often longer than the original factory warranty.

Many high-cost options are included at a fraction of their original cost and often at no additional cost at all. Therefore, if a potential vehicle buyer wants some or many of the high-cost options, such as heated and cooled seats, a navigation system, radar cruise control or a backup camera, purchasing a used vehicle can be a wise decision.

The selection is almost as good as, and often better than, purchasing a new vehicle. While this does not seem accurate, Automotive News stated that 95 percent of new vehicle purchases are made from the selection on the dealer's lot. While purchasing used does not allow the buyer to select the exact vehicles and color wanted, often the selection is very good.

Most people cannot tell what model year a vehicle is so if it is clean and well maintained, no one will know that it was purchased used.

For some of us, purchasing a used vehicle can be a wise choice.

About the Author