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What to Look for When Buying a Used Car in 2022

A large older car is featured on a used car lot.

Thinking about buying a used car in 2022? Well, the used car market has changed a lot recently, so there are a few things you should know before you begin your search. Even if you’ve bought used cars in the past, you should be ready for things to be different now.

Here’s what you need to know about buying a used car in 2022.

Be FlexibleUsed Car for Sale

Used car shopping has always required a certain amount of flexibility. It’s not like walking onto a new car lot where you can pick out or order exactly what you want. With a used car, you should expect to be open to change. Know your must-haves versus the things that would be nice to have. Remain open and accept that you might not find the exact combination of features you want. Even though supply is limited, be sure to check that your “new” purchase has no outstanding issues.

Look at Various Makes and Models

You may have your heart set on a specific make and model, but given current supply issues, new and used car dealerships are experiencing a shortage of stock. Thus, it’s important to research other options. Whether it’s a different model from the same automaker or a similar make from a different brand, keeping your options open is key. You may find that what you end up with was not on your original list.

Also, consider a slightly older model. Even going back just an extra year or two could make a big difference in the price. Add competitive models to your list of possibilities, and don’t get stuck on one style. A large sedan may work in place of a small SUV and vice versa. The more options you’re willing to consider, the greater the chances you’ll find the right car at the right price.

Expand Your Search Radius

If you aren’t having any luck at dealerships nearby, then increase your search area. The larger the region you’re searching to find the right used car, the better the chances you’ll come across the perfect fit. A little road trip to find the perfect car could be worth the drive.

Consider Waiting

If you’re looking to sell a used car, the timing couldn’t be better. With the supply of used cars so limited, available stock commands a premium. That’s great news for sellers but not for buyers. Your budget might fall short, even if it was more than adequate just a few months ago.

If you don’t need a car right this minute, then consider waiting. The combination of short supply and high prices makes it tough to find a used car, especially if you’re on a tight budget. If you can postpone the purchase for a few months, you might find prices come down and supply increases, which will give you more choices.

Buying a used car is a great way to save money on your next car purchase. It’s more affordable than buying new, but beware that the market is hot right now. Supplies are limited, and pricing is higher than ever. Be flexible and be prepared to spend a little extra time in your search.

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

Photo courtesy of Flickr.


Nicole Wakelin View All

Nicole Wakelin covers the automotive industry as a freelance journalist for a variety of outlets. Her work includes news pieces, podcasts, radio, written reviews, and video reviews. She can be found in The Boston Globe, CarGurus, BestRide, US News and World Report, and AAA along with lifestyle blogs like Be Car Chic, The Other PTA, and She Buys Cars. She is active on social media with a large following on both Twitter and Instagram and currently serves as Vice President of the New England Motor Press Association.

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