What to Know When Buying a Used Car


When searching for used cars in Cincinnati Ohio, you want it all. You want a reliable car for a great price, one that gets good gas mileage and performs well, and at an affordable rate over the course of your loan. This is a no-brainer, and are things most used car dealerships like McCluskey Automotive will work with you to achieve your goals.

Unfortunately, the used car buying process it more complicated than just showing up and choosing a car to take home, right? Here’s what you need to know about buying a used car before you even start: 

Problems That Could Arise 

While your search for a used car isn’t necessarily a sign that you’re on a strict budget, it’s safe to assume you don’t want to spend over a certain amount. Even for new car buyers this is true, but typically used car buyers come in with tighter budgets. 

If the reason for your tight budget is bad credit, once you get deep enough into the process, you could hit a brick wall. Because many dealerships aren’t set up to handle bad credit car loans, you could be turned away again and again, despite coming in with a down payment and potentially a decent trade in. 

In this situation, you need to turn to a dealer that specializes in car loans for buyers with bad credit. For Cincinnati buyers, that dealership has always been McCluskey Automotive. We offer bad credit customers options from our lending partners while also providing an in-house Buy Here Pay Here service that allows customers to skip the traditional lender (typically a large bank) and instead finance directly with the dealership. This means that, instead of sending a check off to your lender each month, you simply pay us here at the dealership.

These types of loans typically carry higher interest rates than prime, or good credit, loans. However, when there’s no other option, these loans provide families in need of a vehicle a lifeline. Payment history, like with any type of credit, is reported to the major credit bureaus, which will take not of your good history and upon payoff, will likely increase your credit score. This will allow you to turn your credit around completely.

Choosing a Vehicle Based on Market Value and Resale Value 

Used car prices can be extremely confusing, as they can range from dealership to dealership. Two vehicles of the same type with similar mileage can often be off by thousands of dollars when compared. This can make the process of finding the right price on a used car difficult for shoppers who want something reliable, yet affordable.

The first step here is to skip KBB, Edmunds, and all of the other market value sites. The only comparison you need to do is between different used car dealerships. And if one is priced well below another on a similar vehicle, I can bet they’ll win your business. 

Another important thing to consider is resale value. When you buy a car, you might not be thinking about selling it right away, but it’s likely to happen sometime in the distant future, so it’s better to think about it now rather than later. Do your research and get an idea for depreciation and the value of models that are two or three years older than the model you’re buying. 

How different are the prices? Hundreds? Thousands? You don’t want a vehicle that appears to be dipping in depreciation more and more as it ages. You want a vehicle that has already depreciated the most it will and is now only going down a few percentage points each year. This will allow you to stay above water in your car loan and also be able to make a little money should you decide to trade up within a few years.

Warranty or Extended Warranty Options

Once you’ve chose your car, gotten through the initial buying process, and are talking extras at the dealership, you’ll likely talk about warranties.

Now, many dealerships offer limited warranties, which means they’ll fix issues that arise within an allotted time after purchase, but are not responsible after that time has expired. Because of this, we here at McCluskey Automotive often recommend buying an extended warranty. These warranties are typically offered through third parties and cover specific issues that can end up costing used car owners more money than their vehicle is worth.

If you’re looking to buy an older vehicle that’s ten or more years old with 100,000 or more miles, it’s highly recommended that you invest in an aftermarket warranty. One major repair and they typically pay for themselves. Do your research ahead of time on these warranties to find out whether you think they’re right for you, or you’d prefer to take the risk of going at it alone.

Loan Period and Rate

One of the final parts of the car buying process is accepting your loan period and rate. An example of this would be a 60-month loan period at a 5 percent interest rate. But you should always be comfortable with both of these things before closing the deal, as both can affect your overall purchase immensely.

The longer the loan period, for instance, the more interest you pay over time. The higher the interest rate, the more you pay you pay over the course of the loan. So when weighing your options, think carefully about what you need to properly pay off your vehicle without any issues.

If you’re buying a vehicle for under $10,000, you might want to go for a 48-month loan if possible. With a proper down payment, the lender might lower your interest rate because they see you’re willing to pay more upfront and want to pay off the loan quicker than the average car buyer. 

Little tips and tricks like these will help you enjoy the car buying process more, keep you level-headed throughout the process, and help you leave surprises at home. Happy car shopping!