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Be Prepared: Considerations for Buying a Used Car

A variety of used cars lined up for sale in a lot.

If you’re in the market for a new car — not this year’s model but new to you — you have lots of choices. Buying a used car is sometimes an even more appealing option than buying new. Now, most people usually talk about money, but there’s more to the story than that consideration. Here are a few points to keep in mind.

Used Cars Are More Sustainable

While many people focus on fuel economy as the measure of sustainability, you can’t forget what went into producing the vehicle in the first place. Plenty of a car’s lifecycle emissions are generated during manufacturing and shipping.

When you’re buying a used car, you’re not contributing to the generation of those manufacturing emissions. Whatever you buy — hybrid, electric or conventional — a comprehensive, regular maintenance program will keep your emissions low for the rest of the vehicle’s life.

Used Cars Are Just As Dependable

Fewer of Today's Used Cars End Up Here So Soon.Years ago, it was common to see cars hitting a mythical mile marker and then heading straight to the scrapyard. Unfortunately, there are plenty of used cars over 100,000 miles that buyers simply overlook.

Today’s used cars that are between five and 10 years old are more reliable and last longer than ever before. Chances are good that, if the car’s already run 100,000 miles, another 100,000 to 200,000 miles is a distinct possibility. Get a vehicle history report and an independent used-car inspection to allay your fears.

Used Cars Offer More Variety

This year, like most years, about 350 new vehicle models are available for purchase. It’s not that this is a small number to choose from, but what if your favorite brand isn’t selling something you like, want or need? You may be left with the decision to try something else if they just retired your dream car.

Buying a used car, on the other hand, is quite a different story. Your favorite online used-car shopping site will probably show you upward of 1,000 used cars within just a few miles of home, covering the gamut of years, makes and models. If you’re looking for something specific, you’re likely to find your dream car if you expand your search across the country.

Used Cars Are Just As Safe

New cars get all the new gadgets, don’t they? Still, don’t forget that new cars eventually become used cars — and they don’t shed their safety construction and technology just because they have a few miles on them. Just looking at safety technology within the past decade, tire-pressure monitoring has been standard since 2007, curtain airbags have been available since 2009, and electronic stability control has been standard since 2012, according to NHSTA.

Buying a used car no longer means you have to sacrifice important safety options. Check by vehicle identification number to see the exact features on the used car you’re considering.

If you’re looking into buying a used car, be smart, do your research, have the car inspected and enjoy the ride. Then, see what you need to do to get your car to 200,000 miles and beyond, such as by choosing a quality synthetic oil.

Check out all the maintenance parts available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on buying a used car and caring for it, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.

Photo courtesy of Geograph.


Benjamin Jerew View All

Ben has been taking things apart since he was 5, and putting them back together again since he was 8. After dabbling in DIY repairs at home and on the farm, he found his calling in the CGCC Automobile Repair program. After he held his ASE CMAT for 10 years, Ben decided he needed a change. Now, he writes on automotive topics across the web and around the world, including new automotive technology, transportation legislation, emissions, fuel economy and auto repair.

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