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March 10, 2016

The Top 3 Things to Look for in a Used Car

You’ve done your research and have decided to purchase a used car instead of a new one because you believe it’s a better financial move – or because you don’t have the budget for a more expensive car. Regardless of your reason to purchase a used car, we’ve put together a short list of three things you should look for as you shop for a used car.

hillsboro tx used cars

  1. For the best bang for your financial buck, aim for a used car that’s less than three years old with between 50-60K miles on it.

Low-mileage used cars that are about three years old are almost like new. They’ve depreciated considerably from their new-car price, and will depreciate in value much more slowly from here on out. They also won’t start showing real wear and tear – and the repair bills that often go with this wear and tear – for at least a year or so, so you’ll a) have paid a LOT less for a good car than if you’d purchased new and b) you still won’t have to worry about major repair bills for several months. (Wanting to avoid big repairs and the accompanying big bills are two reasons people give for buying a new car, reasons that are now pretty much moot if you buy a low-mileage, late model used car.)


  1. Try to get a car that’s had just one owner.

People who buy a new car often take care of it, so if you buy a one-owner car, you can pretty much bet it’s been taken care of. Cars with multiple owners? Well, the owners may – or may not have – taken proper care of the car: it’s hard to say because different variables pop up with each subsequent owner.

Purchasing a one-owner used car also means you may want to steer clear of former rental cars. While these cars had “just one owner,” they were driven by many, many, many different people. Most may have been careful while driving the car, but others may have driven it poorly because – after all – “it’s a rental, so why bother treating it well?”

You also want to be sure you get a copy of the vehicle’s history report and see if it’s been a rental or stolen. Even a one-owner car that was stolen probably isn’t worth the trouble (unless you can negotiate the price down considerably, using its theft as a negotiation chip).


  1. Check the car for following issues (and try to avoid them).
  • Unfixed dents and dings that are starting to show rust and breakage. (Dents on their own aren’t necessarily a bad thing – negotiation chip! But dents that are starting to rust or chip could be a sign of other neglect.)
  • Leaking fluids.
  • Check the car’s frame for damage. Never buy a car with a damaged frame.
  • Never buy a car for which you can’t find the VIN number (or the seller won’t give it to you). Always get the VIN and always check its vehicle history report.
  • Check the radiator hose (it shouldn’t be soft). Check the car’s belts (they shouldn’t be cracked).
  • Take the car’s oil filler cap off. If it has a foam residue inside, don’t buy the car: it has a leaking head gasket.


Here’s a great infographic on other things to check on a used car.

If you’re looking for a low-mileage, late-model affordable used car, head on over to the PAACO Automotive Group’s nearest location to learn more about our used car sales and financing programs. Give us a call at 877-810-4555.

Image courtesy of iosphere/

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