If you haven't gone car shopping in a while, get ready to grab your wallet—and your chest—because new car prices have skyrocketed. The average cost of a new car in mid-2015 was $33,560 each. If the sticker shock is making your heart race, consider looking for a used car instead. While average used car prices had also spiraled up to a record of $18,600 in 2014, they're now predicted to fall—in large part due to the number of former leases now coming onto the used car market. If you're worried about how to pick a used car, learn about three tools you can use to make sure that you get a great deal.
Vehicle History Reports
Carfax is probably one of the best-known providers of vehicle history reports but there are plenty of others that you can use. Just make sure that before you commit to a purchase you get the vehicle's VIN number and request a report. Many used auto dealers will offer you a report, free of charge, if you're serious about purchasing. The vehicle history report tells you the number of previous owners, whether or not the car was a lease or a regular purchase, and what type of accident and repair history it has.
Certified Pre-Owned Programs
A lot of dealers handling used cars will have certified pre-owned programs. Checking these out could really help you cash in on the explosion of leased vehicles coming onto the market. Leased vehicles are often in really good shape when they're returned—lease restrictions often require people to take good care of the cars and watch their mileage or face steep fines at the end of the lease. That makes them good candidates for certified pre-owned programs. If you buy one of these, you'll be guaranteed a car that's passed a multi-point inspection before it was put back on the lot.
Vehicle Pricing Guides
There are several different pricing guides that are often used by both buyers and dealers alike to get an accurate idea of the value of a vehicle, based on its overall consumer ratings, recent sales, and the relative quality of the exact vehicle in question.
The Kelley Blue Book is consumer-driven and can be accessed online. If you're interested in a specific type of vehicle, you can use the Blue Book to give you an idea of the fair price, depending on what kind of condition the car is in. The NADA guide claims to be superior to the Blue Book, but it presumes that all vehicles are in very clean condition—which means that it may be overvaluing a vehicle that's only in "Fair" condition. You may also hear about the Black Book, which is really for dealers. It requires a subscription to access and focuses only on wholesale values, not retail. Your dealer may use that to determine a baseline price for any vehicle you are interested in.
If you've been hesitant before to buy a used car because you were worried about the quality and value of a used vehicle, understanding how these tools can work can help you weed out any bad deals out there and find a great used car. Contact a company like Airport Auto RV Pawn & Sales for more information.